Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Health center opens $5.8M site



By Matt Leingang
Enquirer staff writer

LINCOLN HEIGHTS - One of the most important community health centers in Hamilton County opened a new $5.8 million facility Monday, enhancing its ability to bring health care to uninsured and low-income families.

[img]
Doctor Larry Hill, the Dental Director of the Cincinnati Health Department, shows a group around the new dental center at the Lincoln Heights Health Center during an open house Monday morning.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
The Lincoln Heights Health Center moved from Adams Street to a 42,000-square-foot building at 1401 Steffen Ave. The center, which treats about 11,000 patients a year, could see that number double, officials said. New services include mental health treatment, podiatry and expanded dental care.

Community health centers, which offer reduced fees for patients based on family size and income, are seen as "safety nets" in the U.S. health care system, serving economically depressed neighborhoods.

The Lincoln Heights center is the only community health organization in northern Hamilton County. About 150,000 people in Greater Cincinnati lack health insurance.

"We're thrilled to have our dream realized," chief executive officer Dolores Lindsay said. "But we hope this is only the beginning."

The center started in 1967 in a four-bedroom apartment. Using state, federal and private grants, it expanded over the years and eventually opened satellite offices in Mount Healthy and Forest Park.

Its medical staff is supported through partnerships with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and other health care organizations.

But by the early 1990s, the main office on Adams Street had become cramped and the technology outdated, Lindsay said.

Fund raising for the new building took almost 10 years.

Most of the money came from state and federal funding, but $730,000 came in the form of private donations, including $250,000 from the Anthem Foundation of Ohio and $165,000 from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

"This is new building is a beautiful reminder that the community of Lincoln Heights continues to thrive," said Monique Foster, 33, of Lincoln Heights.

Foster has been coming to the health center most of her life because the doctors and nurses "feel like family," she said.

African-Americans still make up 53 percent of the center's patient base, but because of a growing a Hispanic population, that's changing, Lindsay said.

About 15 percent of the center's patients are Hispanic.

That's changing how health care is provided. The center has a dental assistant who speaks Spanish, but officials are still trying to enhance bilingual services, said Larry Hill, director of the Greater Cincinnati Oral Health Council, who oversees dental services at the center.

About the center

Patient profile:

• 33 percent are uninsured.

• 95 percent have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

• 45 percent are ages 20-64.

• 38 percent are infants.

• 53 percent are African-American.

• 30 percent are white.

• 15 percent are Hispanic.

Information:

554-4100.

Hours:

8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. After hours, weekends and holidays, call 588-3623. Pharmacy open weekdays 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Source: Lincoln Heights Health Center

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E-mail mleingang@enquirer.com




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