HealthFirst's new clinic on Lexington's south side to be near Good Foods

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comMay 30, 2012 

The long-anticipated south Lexington location of a public health clinic will be on Southland Drive across from Good Foods Market & Café.

If all things go according to plan in spending the $11.7 million grant that will pay for it, the clinic could be serving patients next summer.

"This is going to be good for the city and good for the community," said Ken Silvestri, president of Silvestri Craig Realtors, which helped broker the deal between HealthFirst Bluegrass and developer Ted J. Mims, who owns the property. Silvestri noted the property had the correct zoning, was close to two hospitals and had ample parking.

The HealthFirst Bluegrass board of directors voted unanimously Wednesday to create a clinic in the 20,900-square-foot, two-story building at 496 Southland Drive and an 11,000-square-foot building on an adjacent lot at 480-490 Southland Drive. HealthFirst will have a 10-year lease with an option to buy, said Silvestri. Ed Receski, an attorney for HealthFirst, said the details of the lease couldn't be released until the closing documents were finalized.

HealthFirst, a primary care clinic supported mostly through tax dollars, serves about 17,000 patients a year, many of them poor. That number is expected to increase because of upcoming changes in national health care.

William North, HealthFirst executive director, said the Southland location would serve as the primary clinic and administrative space. HealthFirst's current clinic space at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department building, 650 Newtown Pike, will serve as a satellite clinic, as will 2344 Regency Road, he said. HealthFirst entered into an agreement to lease those spaces, both owned by the health department, earlier this month.

"This is going to be an exciting adventure," said board member Tom Burich, who said that when he joined the board four months ago he thought that securing a property was a task "almost impossible to complete," But, he said, with clinic space in place, "we are going to help a lot of people."

Creating a new clinic has been what Silvestri called an "arduous process" since the grant was awarded nearly two years ago. Complications, including the need for HealthFirst to become a non-profit independent of the health department, have delayed the process repeatedly, with health officials maintaining the clock was ticking as the grant was set to expire in September.

Dozens of properties, including a city-owned building on Georgetown Street now occupied by another non-profit, the Community Action Center, have been considered.

HealthFirst board chair Thomas Lester said the group would waste no time preparing for renovations. "We are going to need to get to work tomorrow," he said.

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.

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