U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Tuesday the $728 million in grants community health clinics will receive as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Belle Terrace Health and Wellness Centers in Augusta will get $4.9 million and Rural Health Services in Clearwater will get $5 million for their projects.
Belle Terrace, which charges a sliding scale fee for the needy, will build a new clinic next door to its current clinic on Golden Camp Road that it hopes will double the number of patients admitted and provide a new energy-efficient building to save money on utilities and renovations.
The clinic opened in 1999 to serve south Augusta and has since expanded, providing 11,000 patient visits last year.
“What we’re hoping to do is double that over the next three to five years,” said CEO Janice Sherman. “We’re really hoping to expand capacity, for one, because we need to see more people because the need is greater and we really can’t do it in this building. Patient flow issues are really a big issue for this space. There’s a lack of privacy at check-in and check-out points.”
Construction on the new 18,500-square-foot building is expected to begin by late summer and last about 18 months. When it opens, the current clinic building will be used for community education.
Belle Terrace, a federally qualified health center, is looking to expand from three providers to five, and from five exam rooms to 12, Sherman said. The new design will also provide a “green” building that will help save the clinic money.
“There’s just a lot of issues with the (current) building,” Sherman said. “We spend a lot of time renovating and repairing when it would be better just to invest that money in a better return.”