Health department hopes to add new primary care clinic

Facility would offer primary and mental health care

ctruman@herald-leader.comMay 12, 2010 

The Fayette County Health Department has struck a deal with the Bluegrass Mental Health/Mental Retardation Board to build an $11.7 million clinic on Newtown Pike to alleviate overcrowding at its six existing health clinics.

Kyle Black, primary care operations officer at the health department, said the department has applied for a federal grant to pay for the building.

"We're going for something; we're excited about it, but we haven't been told that it's going to happen," said Shannon Ware, president and chief executive officer of the Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board.

About 7,000 more patients would have access to primary care services — medical, dental and pharmaceutical — if the additional facility is added in Fayette County, Black said. And, having both primary care and mental health/substance abuse services in the same building could help area patients who need both types of care but don't always get it, said Ware.

"So many people we serve who have a mental illness don't get good primary care," Ware said.

The three-story, 60,000-square-foot building will be on a 30-acre site that the mental health board owns at 1351 Newtown Pike, which Ware says will have "good proximity" to the new $130 million Eastern State Hospital for mental disorders. Eastern State officials expect ground to be broken later this year.

"Health care reform is talked about so much now in theory, but people don't know how it's going to affect Lexington," said Kevin Hall, a spokesman for the health department. "If this grant goes through, it would provide more services to the community and it would all be paid for through federal grant money."

The existing health department clinics — at 650 Newtown Pike, the Hope Center on Loudon Avenue and at four schools — now serve more than 17,000 patients a year and the Newtown Pike site "is brimming right now," said Black. "We are very full."

At the new building, Black said, "The layout is much more efficient from a patient flow perspective ... and that complementary service of mental health will be right there."

Additional health department sites, such as Regency Road and a campus being developed on Newtown Circle, also do public health work, including screenings, family planning, diabetes care and school and sports physicals.

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