Community Health Centers of Southeastern Iowa (CHC) is moving ahead with its plan for a new dental clinic in Keokuk.
President Ron Kemp said CHC started accepting patients at its temporary facility at 3460 Main Street on February 15. He said there is currently one dentist and one dental hygienist on staff.
“We are at the production level we thought we’d be at,” said Kemp. “When I asked [the staff] the same question, [I found out} we are scheduled out for a few weeks so we are where we expected to be. It’s going to be harder and harder to get everybody who wants to get in seen.”
Kemp said CHC expects that trend to continue when its new location is built at 1618 Main Street. He said the acquisition of the site should be completed this month with construction slated to begin in August and be completed in the spring of 2018.
The new location would have space for three dentists, three dental hygienists and supports staff. The current dentist and hygienist at the temporary location would transfer to the new site in the beginning with the remaining positions being filled within two years.
Kemp said the building will be constructed to allow for easy expansion. He said the goal is to eventually build a facility to house other medical personnel, in particular those in the field of behavioral health.
“We’re currently leasing space from Keokuk Area Hospital,” said Kemp. “That is not going to allow us to grow the way we need to grow. Having our services separated is not in the long-term best interest for patients or our organization so that’s what we are looking at is essentially moving part of the program.”
Kemp said there is a need for additional psychiatric services in the Keokuk area without creating a stand-alone community mental health center.
“We're trying to provide support services to our patients coming from medical providers,” said Kemp. “The new model is that is really being encouraged is that you integrate their services and your delivery of them at the same site so you have the primary medical providers communicating on a daily basis with the behavioral health providers.”
Kemp said the addition is only being talked about now because there is no money in place to pay for it.