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Community Health Clinic working to remove barriers

It’s been just over a month since the Community Health Clinic in Topeka opened its doors and things have been going very well, according to Jared Beasley, the clinic’s operations director.

“There has been a great response from the community. We’ve had tons of community support,” he said.

The clinic was formed to focus on genetic disorders, an issue that is prevalent in portions of the local community. “We’re a resource for the community and local physicians,” Beasley said. Prior to the clinic, those needing testing or treatment for genetic disorders had to travel a significant distance. Now, the same care is available right in Topeka.

The clinic hired Dr. Zineb Ammous, a clinical geneticist who specializes in treating rare genetic diseases. She spent time at similar clinics in Pennsylvania and Ohio, studying the issues unique to their populations that are shared locally. “The local population has a higher rate and they are often different disorders,” Beasley noted.

That uniqueness can carry a high price, though, in the costs of travel, testing and treatment. “We’re working hard to bring down the costs,” Beasley stated. “We’re a not-for-profit, funded by local donations as well as local grants and grants from the state department of health.”

With many patients being uninsured, the clinic works to provide visits at low cost. “That’s critical,” Beasley emphasized. “We work to remove barriers so they can get treatment.” Many of the clinic’s patients are children, he added.

The equipment is costly and even with Dr. Ammous being “very generous with her time,” Beasley said, it’s still costly.

One barrier the clinic is still struggling with is lab testing. “We have no lab equipment in-house and we can’t provide testing at a low cost,” Beasley said. Currently, tests are shipped to various laboratories located around the country. “Genetic tests can range in cost from $150 to $6,000,” Beasley said.

The clinic’s goal is to have a full-service in-house lab that can provide those tests at a fraction of the cost. “We could do the tests from a quarter down to a tenth of the costs,” he estimated. The clinic would focus on the high volume tests, he added.

A lot of the higher costs involved with the testing is due to the special handling needs of the samples. “There’s a lot of time and costs included in that process of getting the samples to them,” he said. A lot of labs are also for-profit. “We’re in it to provide service to our community at the lowest cost,” Beasley said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to start up their own lab, there are still a few pieces of equipment needed at the clinic, some small and some very large. “We are happy to accept a portion of the cost and earmark the funds for a specific item,” Beasley said. “Then, as the fund accumulates enough, we can purchase that item.”

One of the larger items is a High Performance Liquid Chromatography system, which will allow the clinic to test amino acids in-house without having to send tests to another lab. The clinic will be able to decrease patient cost, as well as decrease the wait time for results. An HPLC system costs between $30,000 and $60,000.

The clinic is also looking to acquire a medical deep freezer that will allow the clinic to keep dry ice at their location, which will ease the sending of frozen blood samples to external labs. That could run $1,500.

Some of the needed items are smaller, such as a standing scale and stadiometer to weigh and measure patients. Other items, such as a conference table and chairs, will allow the clinic to meet with patients and staff.

All donations to the clinic are tax deductible.

To find out more on the needs of the clinic or to make a donation, contact Jared Beasley at the Community Health Clinic, 260-593-0108, visit their website at http://www.indianachc.org, or stop in at the clinic in person. It is located at 315 Lehman Avenue, Suite C, in Topeka.