By Alton Mitchell
The City of LaFayette has a small inventory of surplus property on its books. One such property is a former medical clinic that may soon be resuscitated back to life. On Monday night a representative from the statewide group spoke to the LaFayette city council and asked for their support as they seek a grant that can bring the clinic back to life and provide affordable medical care to residents of LaFayette and Chambers County.
Rhonda Lipscomb spoke on behalf of Community Health Centers on Monday night. The health centers are a network of 22 affiliated low cost public health facilities across the state of Alabama. The facilities accept all insurance plans, but also service individuals who do not carry health insurance.
The facilities provide a wide range of healthcare to include medical, behavioral, and dental care. Pharmacy services can also be fulfilled at 5 locations throughout the state of Alabama the nearest to LaFayette is in Tuskegee. The initial goal as of now is for the organization to get a federal grant that will allow for the cost to start up the facility in LaFayette can be approved. The paperwork associated with that grant must be filed by the close of this week. After that it will be about 4-5 months before it is known if the grant is approved.
On Monday Lipscomb asked members of the city council to sign a letter of support to accompany the grant request to show that the city of LaFayette stands behind the location of the medical clinic in the city. The resolution to support the proposal was approved by the LaFayette city council. The letter signed is only a tool of support, it does not bind the city to any obligations with the clinic. If the grant is approved lease details will need to be worked out between the city and Community Health Centers. Lipscomb states that if for some reason the two parties cannot agree they still hope to locate in LaFayette and that may be in the form of other privately owned property or constructing a new facility.
If approved the LaFayette facility would be the first in Chambers County. The nearest centers to this area now are located in Tuskegee, Wadley, and Phenix City. Councilman Michael C. Ellis stated, “I am familiar with the Tuskegee location, many residents of LaFayette now travel to that location for services it is needed for residents in this community”.
Community Health Centers has a long history in Alabama with its first facility opening in 1965. Today that number has now grown to 22 and hopes to make LaFayette number 23. The LaFayette location is set to have services in the areas of dental, medical, and behavioral health The initial plans do not call for the center to offer any drug or substance abuse treatment programs. However recently the health centers have also ventured into mobile units in schools in some Alabama counties including Etowah and Calhoun. This is to assist children with receiving medical care and lower absences. Telemedicine has also became an option for registered patients of the center as they can visit doctors from the comfort of their homes with the use of technology. The center is not set in concrete as of yet, but LaFayette officials have placed their seal of approval on the proposal.