The Rapidian

Spectrum Health to open Community Medicine Clinic for uninsured, underinsured

Spectrum Health Medical Group's new clinic will open Monday, August 5 with access to primary as well as mental care for those who wouldn't otherwise have access to proper medical attention.
Ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Community Medicine Clinic open house

Ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Community Medicine Clinic open house /Ana Olvera

/Ana Olvera

Grand Rapids Commissioner Kelly and Spectrum's Senior Vice President of Community Relations Steve Heacock talk with Eric Bouwens

Grand Rapids Commissioner Kelly and Spectrum's Senior Vice President of Community Relations Steve Heacock talk with Eric Bouwens /Ana Olvera

Spectrum Health Medical Group held an open house Friday morning for its new Community Medicine Clinic (CMC) opening Monday, August 5. The clinic, located at 75 Sheldon Boulevard SE, will offer primary care to uninsured or underinsured Grand Rapids residents.

"There are many people who don’t have insurance, or don’t have documents or who have some other barrier - language, lack of resources... and so we’re trying to begin to fill that gap," says Eric Bouwens, MD, lead physician at CMC. 

Bouwens worked in migrant health services in Sparta before working in Kentwood as a family physician for the last 20 years. 

The family-medicine clinic will be appointment-based but aims to avoid long wait times for available appointments.

"We’re establishing new relationships with people and once we're established, then we have same day appointments so that if a person is sick or having a problem, they should be able to call and be seen within 24 hours," says Bouwens.

CMC will function using person-centered health care. Bouwen's team has committed itself to a "central concept to see each person that we see, not as a patient, but as a person- and to take steps to understand each person's unique reality first before offering solutions and treatment options," says Bouwens.

CMC will have a bilingual and bicultural staff, says Bouwens. Staff will also include a social worker and mental health care provider to integrate counseling and social work intervention into CMC's medical care. 

"Most people who have a serious illness do experience emotional distress over that illness. Or most people who have a mental health illness, it often affects their physical health," says Bouwens. "In reality, they're not separate. It's just recognizing that it doesn't really help anybody to say 'oh thats not in our field, go down the street.'”

A second physician, three physician’s assistants, and a second mental care provider will be added to staff throughout the following months.

Other CMC features include a pharmacy, medication reviews and care coordinators that will connect patients with other services in the community. The clinic will also work closely with a pain and substance abuse specialty clinic in the building. 

"All of these [features] are going to help drive three things: number one, it will be able to promote greater access to care in an urban environment. I think we’ll be able to create greater quality outcomes for patients utilizing these services and I think patients will be able to really have a much improved sense of what their full patient experience is all about," says Kenneth Fawcett, Jr., MD, Spectrum Health Medical Group Interim President. "Ultimately those three things are the things that I think are most important."

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