Rocking Horse unveils $8 million expansion

Springfield care center will house new services and more staff for patients.

Rocking Horse Community Health Center unveiled Tuesday its completed $7.9 million expansion that will allow the center to add more services and accommodate its rapid growth.

CEO Dana Engle said the number of patient visits has doubled since 2007, with 52,000 visits in 2012.

“There are a lot of people who will come here due to the fact that they can get care for their entire family and their entire life,” said Engle. “That’s what it means to be a medical home.”

Before, the federally qualified health center on South Limestone Street focused primarily on pediatric care. Some women’s services and some adult care services were in a different building on East Pleasant Street.

“We continue to do a lot of pediatrics, and that’s growing, as all service areas need to grow,” Engle said. “And we have the capacity to do that now.”

The new building houses all those services under one roof, and it has added more rooms for adult and children’s behavioral health. Rocking Horse will also offer dental services later in the year once dentists are recruited.

Construction started in September 2011 and, after some delay, finished this spring. The 42,000 square foot addition has been serving patients since mid March, but the ribbon cutting ceremony happened Tuesday.

Engle said he expects to see many more patients now that the expansion is complete.

Patients are “so much more excited for us, coming from a local community that doesn’t have a lot of resources. When they see this building, people see and think there will be more available for them,” said Dr. Yamini Teegala, Rocking Horse assistant medical director. “The patients are very excited and it keeps us going.”

In anticipation of rapid growth, the facility has built in space to expand, including unoccupied exam rooms. Currently, Rocking Horse has 100 employees, although Engle said the nonprofit will slowly hire as it grows.

These future employees can look forward to new amenities built in to the facility to help staff. The bottom floor is devoted to employee services, with rooms for computer training, lockers, a fitness center and meeting rooms. In the lobby, Un Mundo Cafe has opened Community Cup, which serves coffee, snacks and sandwiches. All proceeds will go to the Children’s Rescue Center.

The new building was funded in part by a federal grant, as well as community donations. Engle said the expansion proves the need in the community and the supports the center’s designation as a federally qualified health center.

The building is also supported by Community Health Foundation, which invested around $20,000 to become a minority partner.

“It’s such a wonderful community resource that is offering health care to people who don’t have access to health care otherwise, and it’s convenient to people in the area,” said Joy Rogers, CHF executive director. “It seemed like a good fit for our organization and Rocking Horse … they’re focused on heath and wellness in our community and serving all of our community, so it fits really well with our mission.”

Rocking Horse will also open a location in Mulberry Terrace, a permanent supportive housing facility for homeless or near homeless people in the community. Officials broke ground for Mulberry Terrace on Tuesday.

“These are all exciting projects designed to provide for the under served in our community, and it demonstrates a caring community,” Engle said.

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