Site preparation set to begin for new clinic

Site preparation set to begin for new clinic

HANCOCK — UP Health System will begin site preparation activity at its planned new UP Health System Calumet clinic in late February.

Initial activity will focus on demolishing a portion of the current structure at the site where the new clinic will be constructed. Construction of the new clinic facility will begin in the spring.

UPHS – Portage CEO Jeff Lang explained that about one-third of the Calumet Avenue Business Center (formerly Sacred Heart Catholic School), which now houses several businesses, will be demolished to make room for the new free-standing clinic. The remainder of the business center building will be retained as office rental space. UPHS purchased the business center building over the summer.

Architects who designed the new building worked with members of the Calumet Township Planning Commission and the Keweenaw Historical National Park Service to ensure the new structure will match the historical architectural style of Calumet.

Rev. Robert Langseth, who serves on the Planning Commission said, “We have a unique style and look to our buildings here in Calumet. New construction requires sensitivity to the historic nature of Calumet and its designation as a National Park. I commend Portage for making revisions which more closely accommodate that style.”

The clinic project, which will cost approximately $7 million, is expected to be completed and ready for occupancy in fall 2016.

The clinic will be operated by UPHS – Portage in conjunction with Upper Great Lakes (UGL) Family Health Center, which will relocate from its current location on 6th Street.

“We are excited to be working even more closely with Upper Great Lakes to expand resources and choice for the people of Calumet,” Lang said, explaining that UPHS – Portage will be expanding the range of services it now offers the community. Expansion will include diagnostics such as lab, x-ray and ultrasound. In addition, visiting medical specialists, including the areas of orthopaedics, oncology and general surgery will rotate through the clinic.

Primary care medical services will continue to be provided by UGL, but also will be expanded, according to Don Simila, CEO.

Simila said, “We plan to transfer our existing primary care services into the new facility, working collaboratively with UPHS – Portage. We will be expanding to include full dental services and primary care based behavioral health services under the health center umbrella.”

The primary care portion of the clinic staffed by UGL will be operated as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), dedicated to providing high quality primary care to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. At a FQHC primary care clinic, a sliding fee scale based on income is used to determine cost of services. Tertiary care services provided by UPHS will function separately from the FQHC model used by UGL.

“As a Federally Qualified Health Center, our mission is to ensure that uninsured or underinsured residents in a community have access to full primary care health services,” said Simila. UGL currently provides free assistance to individuals seeking health insurance coverage. Simila added that he will seek funding for dental office equipment and recruit dental services staff during the construction phase of the clinic project. “Our team of health care providers and support staff has adopted the model of practice known as the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH). PCMH is a model of healthcare based on an ongoing, personal relationship between a patient, doctor and the patient’s care team.”

Lang said the Calumet community will benefit greatly by combining the UGL mission with the diagnostic and specialty services that will be offered at the new clinic by UPHS – Portage.

He said, “By working alongside UGL, we will establish a more long-term relationship with patients, versus just responding to immediate needs for medical treatment, thus fulfilling our broad long-range goal of making communities healthier.”

[Photo and information courtesy UP Health System – Portage.]