Kohl: Community clinics ‘precious’ resourceFor his entire political career, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl has been a supporter of community health clinics.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
For his entire political career, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl has been a supporter of community health clinics.
And Monday, he got a first-hand account of the important role they play in communities amidst the high cost of health care.
Kohl toured the Lake Superior Community Health Center during stops in northern Wisconsin that included a stop at the Ashland Business Development Corp. Business of the Year lunch, Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Superior and a peak at a prototype for Kestrel Aircraft Co.’s new K-350.
The clinic has 12 exam rooms and sees about 5,000 people a year, said Mavis Brehm, chief executive officer of the clinic that northern Wisconsin. People come in from quite a ways sometimes, surprisingly. The clinic primarily serves people who live within 200 percent of the federal poverty rate.
More than half go to the clinic for its dental services.
The dental labs were built out in 2005, Brehm said.
“This is all state-of-the-art equipment,” Brehm said. “Right now because we have the only sliding fee clinic here, it was in such demand. You wouldn’t believe. About 60 percent of all the volume here is dental because there just aren’t a lot of options for them. Medical there are at least other options. Everyone on Medicaid or sliding scale has to come here.”
Brehm said most of the people who access care in the dental clinic are on some type of medical assistance and most private dentists don’t accept low-income patients.
It’s work that is definitely needed in the community, said Dr. Eric Elmquist, DDS, who heads the dental clinic at Lake Superior Community Health Center.
Timothy Glanville attested the services provided at the clinic. Both a patient and a member of the board, Glanville said he’s in good shape — despite chronic ailments — because of the care he receives at Lake Superior Community Health Clinic.
“It’s amazing,” Glanville said. “I think of some of the dentists I used to see and you would just go home holding your jaw.”
Living three blocks from the clinic, and not being able to access care by conventional means because he doesn’t have the money to pay out of pocket, Glanville said the clinic serves both his dental and medical needs.
“When I first came here, I was in horrible shape,” Glanville said. “I had all kinds of chronic conditions I had no idea I had. And the doctors and the staff just took me through it one step at a time and we worked on it and now I’m feeling as fit as a fiddle.”
Glanville said while he has diabetes, he’s able to keep it in check with diet and exercise; he’s never had to take anything for it.
“I’ve had such good leadership from the doctors,” he said. “As long as you listen to them and they’ll be able to help you a lot better.”
And Lake Superior Community Health Center is planning to expand services available at its Superior clinic, 3600 Tower Ave.
“We just recently got a TeleHealth Medicine grant and we’re going to put x-ray services back in the building,” Brehm said.
The clinic also provides services to help people access programs they may be eligible for, Brehm said.
Following a tour of the facility, Kohl noted how “precious” the services provided at Lake Superior Community Health Center are for the community.
Kohl said the care provided community clinics is more cost effective than emergency room visits.