New health clinic treating patients on North Bolton Avenue

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that quality health care is crucial.
Published: Jun. 1, 2021 at 3:32 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 3:39 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that quality health care is crucial. With the growing number of health care clinics in Central Louisiana, getting treatment may be easier than ever.

“Gradually, over the last decade, there’s been an increase in the number of federally qualified health centers which will accommodate Medicaid patients and that’s been useful,” said Dr. David Holcombe, the Region Six Office of Public Health Director.

The Rapides Community Health Center, located at 2200 North Bolton Avenue, is now open, providing health care, despite one’s ability to pay.

“We accept Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and for those uninsured patients or underinsured patients, we see them on a sliding scale, household income, where someone could see a doctor for as low as $20,” said Deano Thornton, CEO of Trinity Community Health Centers of Louisiana.

Thornton says no one will be turned away.

“In this setting, we try to qualify that patient that is uninsured for Medicaid. We assist them in filling out their application, but we don’t turn them away. We see them, we treat them.”

The clinic opened about a month ago as a place for students to go to get treatment during the summer. That’s because Trinity Community Health Centers of Louisiana has multiple school-based health centers located across Rapides Parish.

“The students that we see during the year may not have a primary care physician. So, we felt like it would be good to place for a clinic here in Rapides Parish to service those students during the summertime,” said Thornton.

The school-based health clinics make it easy for students to get quality health care, without having to leave the classroom.

“The mission for our school-based health centers is to keep students in school and parents at work. All the treatment we give in schools is at no out-of-pocket expense.

Deano Thornton

It’s care that is, crucial, especially for students who live in underserved areas.

“Access to health care is really critical for people to get decent outcomes, and this area for a long time didn’t have any Medicaid providers,” said Holcombe.

You can take the Sonia Quarters and Martin Park neighborhoods for example.

“If you compare Sonia Quarters and you compare that with Martin Park, for instance, there’s a four-year difference in life expectancy.”

Dr. David Holcombe

That’s because of important factors such as unemployment and infant mortality.

“When you add them all together, someone born in Sonia Quarters will die four years earlier,” said Holcombe.

However, it’s not just an access problem that can lead to poor health outcomes.

“Only ten percent of our health outcomes are really related to critical care. The rest is related to social determinants of health, and that’s why it’s such a complicated problem.”

Dr. David Holcombe

The school you went to and what you do for a living can play a part in your health outcomes.

“Health care is really related to income on one side, on one side social status and the other side is education,” said Holcombe.

That’s why clinics like the Rapides Community Health Center are making sure everyone gets the treatment they deserve. So that we can all live in a healthier community.

“Everyone, in my opinion, has a right to quality health care,” said Thornton.

“When your neighbor is not receiving health care, it’s not good for the community. It provides for disease spread,” said Thornton.

The new clinic offers primary care and behavioral health services. They also provide transportation. If you need a ride to and from your appointment, all you have to do is call 318-693-1311.

Starting in the fall, Trinity Health will be in an additional nine schools in Rapides Parish.

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