Traverse Health Clinic’s New Space a Boon for Patients, Staff

sherri-fentonThanks to a million-dollar grant from the federal government and nearly half that again in support from the area, the new Traverse Health Clinic is a reality. The clinic’s move from its location on Logan Valley Road to the new facility on Garfield resulted in nearly doubling the clinic’s space as well as updating its facilities.

The new health center will help facilitate the “health care home” concept whereby teams of providers and staff give comprehensive primary care, including behavioral health counseling.

“Because of this new space, we will be able to increase our number of patient encounters for primary care and behavioral health counseling,” said Sherri Fenton, the clinic’s development and marketing director. “Projections are for about 17,000 total encounters by 2018, enabling us to comfortably serve over 4,000 people annually.”
Fenton said the clinic was growing increasingly busy and had outgrown its space, which also didn’t provide the most efficient workflow.

“We couldn’t bring on more providers,” she said. Now, the exam rooms have gone from eight to 12, with four separate pods for staff. “This will allow us to have four provider teams at the same time.”

Fenton said as the clinic grew, the staff looked at options. She said they began to realize they were outgrowing the space in 2014. Last year, the clinic’s board of directors identified acquiring new, better space as a major priority. The board considered other buildings and locations, but they were too expensive or not in the right place.

Meanwhile, the building at 1719 S. Garfield, then the home of the Traverse Antique Mall, was silently for sale. The clinic found a potential buyer for the property who would lease back the property to the clinic – if it could come up with the money for the rental and renovation. That’s where the grant came in.

“The biggest thing was when we received the $1 million grant,” said Fenton.

The clinic applied for a Federal Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA) capital grant for infrastructure. The clinic received notice Sept. 15 of last year that it had been awarded the grant for the maximum of $1 million, and plans were immediately put into place for the building purchase. Architectural planning began, as well as environmental studies, and the renovation started in April, with Bob Vlade of Vell Construction as the general contractor. The entire process took just over a year.

The floor plan will allow for more patients to be seen and make workflow much more efficient. In addition, the new location on a major road gives the clinic much greater visibility and accessibility. It also provides a conference room large enough for community outreach programs. There will be space to accommodate some nursing and medical students, as well as other functions, such as lab draws, that there simply wasn’t enough space for previously.

Fenton said the community’s generosity in donating $450,000 brought the health center to the point at which it could remodel and furnish the new space. At this writing, the clinic was only $41,000 short of the total goal of $1.5 million.