NeoHealth expands into TMC Building
NeoHealth Expands Into TMC Building
In its 10th year of operation, the agency continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
By BETTY RIDGE
Special Writer The Tahlequah Daily Press
Thu May 05, 2011, 09:51 AM CDT
Taken from Tahlequah Daily Press Website
|Dr. Sara Brown, Dr. Sharon Zang and Renee Hill (from left) celebrate after receiving the keys to the TMC building Wednesday. Zang is the CEO of NeoHealth, which has purchased the medical office building and will house its Tahlequah operations there; the other women are vice chair, and chair, respectively, of the NeoHealth board.|
TAHLEQUAH — Soon, patients at NeoHealth clinics in Tahlequah will be able to bring the whole family, from babies to great-grandparents, to one central location for treatment.
On Wednesday, NeoHealth staff members celebrated the purchase of the Tahlequah Medical Center building.
The building, across from Tahlequah City Hospital at the intersection of Downing and Bliss, will house the three clinics NeoHealth has operated in separate leased facilities.
Several doctors will maintain their offices there and the TMC Pharmacy will continue to operate.
“It’s really a major part of our vision,” Renee Hill, NeoHealth board chair, said of the purchase. “We also feel this is a good thing for the community.”
Dr. Sharon Zang, CEO of NeoHealth, a not-for-profit federally qualified health center, said combining all the Tahlequah operations under one roof exemplifies the organization’s commitment to providing the care the community needs, at rates the insured and non-insured alike can afford.
The building is centrally located, adjacent to TCH and Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital, with sufficient parking, and has room for expansion.
An additional 2.7 acres adjacent to the TMC building was included in the purchase, and is zoned for medical use.
The family practice clinic, formerly in a strip shopping center on Downing Street, has already moved to the TMC Building. The pediatrics clinic, now in a strip center behind Walmart, will move in July, and the women’s clinic, now at the Clinic in the Woods, will move in late summer or early fall.
“Getting us all under one roof is going to be very important,” said Dr. Sara Brown, vice chair of the board. “When families can come to one place and realize all their medical care, it will be a great help to them. The doctors are all here, and it’s a great location.”
NeoHealth, organized in 2002, has progressed rapidly in its first decade of operation. Organizers hoped to build a health provider that would serve those traditionally underserved, including the uninsured and underinsured in the community. Today, the clinics see a wide variety of patients, including those with private insurance, Medicare, SoonerCare, and people with no insurance.
“We take care of everyone – people who have insurance, who don’t have insurance. To us, they’re all special; they all matter,” Zang said.
One reason Oklahoma ranks poorly in assessments of health care is that many people don’t have preventive care. They may have catastrophic insurance but don’t make regular visits to doctors to treat such conditions as diabetes, pre-diabetes or high blood pressure. If untreated, these conditions can lead to more serious medical issues.
Zang would like to see NeoHealth help change that.
The organization will soon offer informative videos on its website on issues such as the need for prenatal care, diabetes prevention and care, hypertension, smoking cessation, weight control and cancer prevention.
With the completion of the move into the TMC Building, NeoHealth operations will include:
- Clinics for family practice, pediatrics, and women’s health (including care for pregnant women and childbirth services) in Tahlequah.
- A family practice clinic and administrative offices in Hulbert. A pharmacy is expected to open in Hulbert in late summer or fall. Zang said bids are being taken on remodeling for a building already purchased by NeoHealth.
- A family practice clinic in Westville. The clinic is in its second year of operation and treats many patients who previously did not have access to care locally.
Plans also are under way for a clinic in Muskogee. Zang said the agency has applied for an Access Point federal grant and hopes to hear about that funding in August.
“In Muskogee we want family practice, ob-gyn and pharmacy services,” she said. “It’s also very important for us to have mental health services and case management.”
Zang expects the TMC facility to house 17 or 18 NeoHealth employees.
The organization now employs 48. Services also will include some administrative and nursing offices, as well as case management and referral. These services will help patients who need, for example, a CT scan or an appointment with a specialist.
“One of the problems people have is getting into specialists. If you’re uninsured, it’s nearly impossible. If you have Medicaid, it’s pretty hard,” she said.
One of the board’s ambitions is to start a foundation to patients get access to these services they would not be able to afford otherwise.
Dale Johnson, the new chief financial officer for NeoHealth, recently moved here from Minnesota. He has worked in the health care finance field for a number of years and believes his new employer typifies the future of health care.
“Health care is redefining itself in this country,” he said. “It will not be defined by the building someone is getting service in, but by the network someone is getting service in.”
People will become patients in full-service systems that are affordable for all, he said.
Zang said federally qualified health centers such as NeoHealth are a vital part of the health care reform program. Their administrative costs are 20 percent lower than most providers. That means 80 percent of money spent goes to patient care, she said.
Brown gave the following example of the organization’s attempt to cut costs: Rather than sending one board member to training in Dallas, at a cost of $3,500, the group spent $3,500 to bring a trainer to Tahlequah. This provided training for all nine board members, as well as for staff members.
Zang said she worked with Scott Wright of Wright Century 21 Real Estate, former owner of the property, and with Mark Gish, president of BancFirst, on financing that made the purchase possible.
Wright said he bought the TMC building, constructed in the mid-1980s, four years ago and completed extensive refurbishing.
“It’s been reconditioned and added onto. When I bought it I did a major overhaul,” he said.
“I’m excited for them. I thought it was time to put the facility back in the hands of a medically-related business, and I think they will do well with it.”
Hill said she and family members have come to the TMC building for medical visits for years, so it feels like home to her.
Zang hopes many area residents will come to view it as the home for their health care needs as well.
“In the future, we hope to collaborate with other health centers. We’re about collaboration, partnerships,” she said. “But most importantly, we’re accountable to the people we serve.”
Purchased by NeoHealth on April 28th 2011, The Tahlequah Medical Center has always been the Premier location for the residents of Tahlequah to receive great healthcare, and NeoHealth is proud to continue that tradition!
For lease information, contact Angel Westbrook at (918)-772-3390 x103.