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Flooding delays pediatric clinic opening

Significant flooding caused by a water softener damaged a $1 million pediatric clinic that recently opened, forcing its staff to return to its former facility in Mercy Memorial Hospital in order to serve patients.

Earlier last week, dozens of staff and community members packed the Mercy Well Child Pediatric Clinic, a nearly $1 million investment that helped turn an empty grocery store into a full-service pediatric center. Staff members began seeing patients at the new facility late last month, and hosted an open house Tuesday.

When staff members arrived Wednesday, standing water covered the floors of the new facility. The flooding appears to have been caused by a faulty water softener, but the incident is still being investigated, said Dave Lamb, a spokesman for Community Mercy Health Partners.

In order to continue serving patients, staff members returned to their previous facility at Mercy Memorial Hospital in Urbana. They treated 17 patients Wednesday, Lamb said, and were scheduled to treat 20 more on Thursday.

“They’ve got a busy load, and they’re keeping up with it,” Lamb said.

“It is not yet clear when they will be able to return to the new facility,” Lamb said. Linoleum, carpet and other parts of the building are still being assessed, and dehumidifiers and fans are being used to dry the new facility.

The new 8,500 square-foot facility serves patients from birth to 21 years old. Located in a former Big Bear grocery store at 204 Patrick Ave., it offers services ranging from nutrition screenings to social services assessments, physicals and autism screenings. The service had previously been housed at Mercy Memorial Hospital in Urbana, but staff members said it had outgrown the available space.

“We’re still trying to use all the rooms,” said Kara Hartman, a nurse practitioner at the facility said during the open house.

The previous facility had only three exam rooms, with an additional room that could be used on occasion if needed. The new facility, however, has 10 medical exam rooms and an additional two for behavioral health appointments, Hartman said. The new facility will also allow staff members to conduct and evaluate more laboratory tests, see more patients, increase use of electronic medical records and cut down on the amount of time patients have to wait for appointments and test results.

There is also space to conduct educational classes, including health seminars, Hartman said.

The new facility represents a roughly $1 million investment from Community Mercy Health Partners, said Deb Dunham, manager of Mercy Well Child. The center has seen a 30 percent increase in patients each of the past few years, and has increased from five staff members to 16 in the past three years. The staff includes a pediatrician, two full-time nurse practitioners as well as administrative and clerical staff.

The facility, Dunham said, serves as a medical home in which several providers from different medical disciplines cooperate to serve local families.

Several residents who attended an open house last week at the center said they were pleasantly surprised with the spacious facility and bright, colorful walls.

“We’re excited that this is here in Urbana,” said Robin Henry, who was on hand with her four foster children. She said the children typically use the facility for routine check-ups. “It’s a great addition to the town and it’s much needed,” Henry said.

Sarah Walker said the space is more inviting to her four children.

“It’s just what we’ve been hoping for for quite some time,” Dunham said.

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