Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas originally opened in 1997 as an outreach service of Mt. Carmel Regional Medical Center in Pittsburg. It was housed in what was then the newly opened Family Resource Center (now the largest non-profit childcare center in the state) on the second floor of a 90-year-old former elementary school. Its purpose was to ensure that children were “ready to learn” and did so by providing school physicals and immunizations five days a week regardless of a family’s ability to pay.
With the addition of a part-time physician and nurse practitioner, it expanded into a modular building behind the resource center and, at the same time, began offering one-day-a-week dental services at a nearby church. The clinic relied on the support of the medical center and small grants and with its sustainability in jeopardy, applied for and received designation as southeast Kansas’ only FQHC in November 2002. In May 2003, ownership transferred from Mt. Carmel to a new corporation – the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas Inc. – and the rest is history.
Its growth has been significant beginning with the opening of a dedicated 5,000 sq. ft. dental clinic in August 2005, the addition of mental health services including a psychiatrist, recruitment of a full-time medical director and, in May 2007, the completion of a new 15,000 sq. ft. Pittsburg clinic. This facility, now physically at capacity, fully integrates medical, dental and mental health services in one location complemented by an in-house pharmacy which opened in September 2007. A month later, a HRSA-funded New Access Point was opened in Columbus in Cherokee County which offers medical, dental and mental health services, as well as discounted pharmaceuticals through a contract with a pharmacy located next door. In 2008, staff expanded further including the recruitment of a second pediatrician and opening of a state-of-the-art dental clinic in Iola as part of Dental Hub II (an initiative to increase access to oral health throughout the state). The transition to an all-electronic medical and dental record also was initiated with all clinics converted as of January 2009. Altogether, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas maintains four full-time sites, with part-time services provided at the Cherokee County Correctional Facility and the Crawford County Jail for staff and inmates.
In 2008, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas saw a 30% increase in patients and 49% growth in encounters with 16,000 patients and 59,300 patient visits; it is projecting a 13% increase in 2010 with 17,700 patients and 67,300 encounters.