ELYRIA — Lorain County Health and Dentistry is moving ahead with its plan to place a medical facility at Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Wilkes Villa. In advance of a permanent facility that is at least a year away, a mobile medical clinic will soon be parked at the development.
Executive Director Stephanie Wiersma said the health agency is aggressively looking to lease a two-room mobile unit to serve as the temporary home of the clinic while a more permanent building is planned and constructed. The unit is targeted to be in place in the coming months and will have the capacity to see up to 18 patients a day.
The patient load is less than what Wiersma said the clinic will be able to serve once it is built and fully staffed, but the need for medical care in the area makes it necessary for a solution sooner rather than later.
“Part of our commitment to Elyria is to expand our mission into all the neighborhoods, and Wilkes Villa is a medically underserved area,” she said. “Access to medicine is often about removing barriers and the biggest barrier in that community is transportation. Residents have trouble finding transportation to access health care so we are bringing health care to the residents and will encourage preventative health care for the residents and their families.”
Wilkes Villa is essentially a more suburban development because access to schools, churches, grocery stores, health care facilities and social agencies is largely not within walking distance, said Dominick Durante Jr., president of LDA Architects, the firm LMHA is using on the Wilkes Villa master plan project.
“That is an obstacle that is best remedied by building a community within the Wilkes Villa community,” he said Wednesday night at a public meeting to discuss the strategic plan.
The master plan for the complex includes not just a proposal to place a satellite Lorain Health and Dentistry Clinic, but also a child care facility, administration and maintenance building for use by the housing authority and a mini station for the Elyria Police Department.
However, the permanent health clinic that, when fully staffed, will be able to handle pediatric, family medical and obstetric care is at least a year away, Wiersma said.
“We would prefer sooner, but we are working with LMHA to ensure the clinic fits into the master plan and will be a place all residents in the area, not just Wilkes Villa, will be able to utilize for some time to come,” she said.
The mobile medical clinic will have all of the amenities of traditional brick-and-mortar clinics and will allow medical personal to deliver personal care in a clean and sanitized environment.
The mobile units typically cost in the mid six figures, but Wiersma said an investment of that magnitude will not be made. Instead, the plan is to lease a used unit until the permanent facility opens.
Lorain County Health and Dentistry opened its first Elyria facility earlier this year in a former train station that once housed the Mediclinic on East River Street. The building also once served as home for the thriving family practice of Dr. Raymundo de la Pena.
The Elyria Medical Facility opened in February and handles pediatric and adult family medicine for the un- and underinsured. It has 19 exam rooms.