Community Health Care‘s Lakewood Clinic has been serving the community since 1980. Since opening its doors, the facility has served thousands of area residents with complete health care, whether a person has health insurance or not.
This isn’t a government agency and its income comes from fees paid by those receiving medical services, state contributions, government grants and other contributions.
Operating out of the facility at 10510 Gravelly Lake Drive SW in Lakewood — the former Lakewood City Hall ¬?– a campaign is now underway to raise the funds to purchase the building. Community Health Care moved into this building in 2003, spent a year remodeling it at a cost of $2.5 million and now serves nearly 20,000 of the area’s most vulnerable individuals a year. Another 6,000 receive dental services at the clinic.
With a purchase price of $4 million, the clinic needs to complete its fundraising by the end of September when its purchase option expires. Of this total, $2 million will come from reserves and another $1 million has already been raised. Now, with the deadline rapidly approaching, the campaign is underway to finish funding the final $1 million.
Co-chairs for the campaign are Andie Gernon, a former city council person and community activist, and Bill Harrison, retired general and former mayor of Lakewood. They pointed out the need for the clinic in a community with a large population living near or below the poverty line. It is to this group that the clinic provides the bulk of its service.
“We offer services at fees that are relative to a person’s income,” Gernon said. Additionally, the clinic provides payment plans for many of those who don’t have insurance, allowing them to receive the needed services in a dignified manner, which they can afford.
Many people are confused about how it operates, where its funding comes from and who it serves.
David Flentge, CEO of the clinic, explained that “the clinic provides primary medical and dental services for its patients and their families. The goal is to be a medical and dental home for the patients. This allows patients to learn about health issues and get optimal health care. Instead of free care, Community Health Care provides services on a sliding scale,”
From a Pierce County population of nearly 750,000, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department estimates about one in seven does not have health insurance and nearly half have no dental insurance, even though surveys reveal that more than half of the uninsured are employed.
Doctors and staff are all paid professionals, according to Flentge. Most work fulltime at the clinic and there are currently 14 doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists and hygienists on staff plus another 50 support personnel.
Many of the patients served by the Lakewood Community Health Care facility would probably end up in a hospital emergency room for non-emergency services if the clinic weren’t available, Flentge reported. The cost to serve individuals at St Clare or other emergency rooms is much higher than seeing a patient at the clinic, not even counting the problem of non-emergencies filling the beds in the emergency room.
Direct contributions to meet the September deadline are being sought. Three-year pledges are also being taken for those who want to spread out their contribution. All gifts are tax deductible to the 501(c)3 organization. You can send a contribution to:
Community Health Care, Capital Campaign, 101 E 26th St, Suite 100, Tacoma, 98421. If you need additional information, contact Justin Morrill at 253-597-4550 or by e-mail: email@example.com.