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Oaklawn Albion clinic adds Express Care

ALBION – A new primary and express care clinic in the central part of this city will have its grand opening Monday, Feb. 11.

The handicap-accessible facility is called Oaklawn Express Care – Albion and occupies the renovated ground floor of 302 N. Monroe St. The location is the west side of Munger Place at 311 E. Michigan Ave., and the clinic’s main entrance is on Monroe Street.

The clinic’s regular hours of operation will be from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The office may be contacted at (517) 654-1020.

Oaklawn Express Care – Albion is the result of a partnership between the college and Marshall-based Oaklawn, which in recent weeks has been transferring its medical services from its former Albion office at 300 B Drive North to the college-owned Munger Place.

The clinic occupies the building’s entire ground floor, comprising approximately 8,000 square feet of space. It will be staffed by physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The clinic has X-ray and laboratory facilities for allergy shots and immunizations. A physician will be on call at all times.

Oaklawn’s Physical Rehabilitation Services will remain at the B Drive location, which has been the chief source of medical services to the Albion community since the closure of Albion Health Services’ Trillium Hospital in 2002.

The vacated B Drive space has been leased to Battle Creek-based Senior Care Partners for its Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). That program will undertake a $1.5 million renovation to create a mini-center serving seniors on the county’s east side.

“Our goal is to provide convenient, accessible, thorough medical care when and where the community and Albion College’s students need it most,” said Richard C. Lindsey, Oaklawn’s executive director of legal and community affairs.

“We’ve been working for a long time with many members of the community to meet Albion’s challenges regarding health care,” Lindsey said. “It became clear fairly quickly that the responsible thing to do was to find a location for health services much closer to the population center. A community health needs assessment listed an urgent-care type of clinic as a top need.”

“I am definitely excited, even more so because it’s in my precinct,” said Marcola Lawler, a member of the Albion City Council representing Precinct 4. “There’s a majority of elderly people in my precinct, so now it’s not so far for them to travel to get health care.”

Lawler, who was born and reared in Albion, said the community has faced severe challenges in luring businesses and new residences because of its long-term lack of a health-care clinic or hospital.

“Now that we do have a clinic, people hopefully will look at us with a more open mind,” she said, adding that the new situation should ease concerns about residents who often have limited access to proper health care.

“That makes our dream come true, because we really needed this,” Lawler said.

Albion College President Mauri Ditzler said the new facility is a culmination of several years of planning and will benefit not only the College but the Albion community.

“For three years we have been exploring options that would expand the health coverage for our students and increase options for our employees and neighbors throughout the community,” he said. “The new clinic comes at just the right time. Our students will benefit from more comprehensive health care services and at the same time they will enjoy a more robust learning environment as more faculty and staff choose to live in the community.”

The project grew from discussions between Oaklawn and college officials, who determined that the former B Drive North clinic on the city’s northern outskirts was an inconvenient location for students and Albion residents in need of after-hours care who may have limited access to transportation.

For Albion College students accustomed to the institution’s own Student Health Services, the new and larger space – within a short walk of the college’s campus – will come with expanded services, including extended weekday hours and the long-range potential for Sunday hours and after-hours medical services.

The Student Health Services office on Cass Street is in a transitionary phase during the first few weeks of the Munger clinic’s operations. Until March 1, the SHS office will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. After that, SHS director Cheryl Krause will serve as the college’s health-services liaison to Oaklawn, based on campus. The SHS office eventually will be repurposed, college officials said.

Students will need to provide insurance information to the clinic when they are seen. Co-pays and deductibles will be handled as they would be in a physician’s office.

“We are big fans of this plan because it makes it possible for Oaklawn to fulfill its mission so well,” Lindsey said. “At Oaklawn, we’re persistent in our dedication to improving access to health care throughout this area. This project will make it possible for us to do exactly that for our neighbors in Albion.”

In addition to financial commitments from Oaklawn and the college, additional funds for the project were obtained through the Battle Creek Community Foundation, the Marshall-based Cronin Foundation and the state of Michigan, Lindsey said. He credited Michigan State Sen. Mike Nofs for assistance in obtaining state grant funding totaling $1,050,000. Nofs was assisted in that effort by Michigan state Reps. John Bizon and David Maturen, Lindsey said.

“This is a great new example of the ongoing collaboration among local residents as well as county and state businesses, organizations and officials that is helping to revitalize the community of Albion,” Lindsey said.

“Our ongoing mission at Oaklawn is to provide personal, compassionate, accessible, and high-quality care to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve,” said Oaklawn’s interim CEO and President Gregg Beeg.

“This is a real step forward, and we at Oaklawn share in all the excitement that our friends in Albion have expressed,” Beeg said. “We’re always striving to give perfect care every time, while advancing the practice of medicine in this region.”