Clark State, Mercy partner on new clinic to serve campus, community

Feb 27, 2018

Clark State Community College and Mercy Health-Springfield are working on a proposal to build a new medical center on campus that also would serve community members, along with faculty and students.

The clinic, which would open in spring of 2019, would provide services in an area of Springfield that’s medically under-served, Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin said. Mercy would own and operate the clinic within the Applied Science Center, which will be staffed by an on-site nurse practitioner.

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“Clark State is walkable for a lot of people,” Blondin said. “Think about Leffel Lane and that corridor with all those businesses and all the needs they might have for their workforce. Whether it’s physicals or drug screenings or any of the workforce needs they might have, this would be really convenient to those businesses on this side of town.”

Clark State has an existing clinic on campus for staff and students, she said, but it’s small and mostly provides basic services like immunizations. The proposed clinic would be much larger and provide a wider list of services for patients.

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Clark State’s board of trustees voted last week to sign a letter of intent with Mercy to begin contract discussions for the project. During contract negotiations, Clark State leaders also plan to gather input from Springfield residents and businesses about the kinds of services the new facility should offer.

It also could improve health outcomes for local residents, Blondin said. Springfield was named the least healthy city in Ohio just a few years ago by a national website and since then Clark County leaders have worked to shed that image.

That site, 247wallst.com, based its assessment on the local economy and the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, national health surveys conducted annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

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“Springfield and our region has an opportunity to improve its health-care outcomes, which in turn will improve its workforce,” Blondin said. “A year ago we were involved in our master planning process as a campus, looking at our facilities and our services. I felt like the Applied Science Center should be opened up to the community as a resource rather than utilizing solely for classes.”

Clark State employs about 235 full-time employees with an additional 400 adjunct and/or contract employees. It has about 9,000 students annually.

Mercy Health, Springfield’s largest employer, announced plans last week to merge with Bon Secours Health System, an East Coast nonprofit Catholic health system. Blondin said that deal should have no impact on Clark State’s planned clinic.

The proposed clinic would also be in line with Mercy’s mission, said Matt Caldwell, CEO of Mercy Health-Springfield in a statement.

“A key part of our mission is to provide care to the under-served,” Caldwell said. “The location of this clinic ensures that students, faculty, staff and residents of the south side of Springfield will have access to important primary care services where previously there were none.”

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The proposed clinic would also provide other benefits, including offering new opportunities for students to gain job skills through clinical experiences and internships.

Clark State’s existing clinic, on the second floor of the Applied Sciences building, is about 1,200 square feet, Blondin said. Somewhere between 1,900 to 2,800 square feet will be available for more services and renovations for the new clinic, and the size of the facility will be determined during negotiations.

“It’s an opportunity for Clark State to be a problem-solver in the community,” Blondin said. “Our mission is to develop the workforce and educate everybody but we also want to be sure we’re solving problems in the community. We think health-care is an issue that is critical to developing a strong workforce.”

Vera Ruffin, RN, works in the Clark State Community College’s Health Clinic in the Applied Science Center on their Leffel Lane campus. Bill Lackey/Staff Photo: Staff Writer