‘The need is huge’

GREENFIELD — For more than 20 years as a private practice physician, Dr. Teresa Jones heard from patients who were sick but couldn’t get the care they needed.

Some didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford to see a doctor; others were on Medicaid and learned the office was no longer accepting those patients, she said.

Residents with no insurance or Medicaid often don’t have primary care providers, Jones said; they don’t get the preventive care they need. When they’re sick, they don’t have many affordable places to turn.

The Jane Pauley Community Health Center seeks to fill that gap in Greenfield. As the center celebrates its first anniversary, those who work there say they find great joy in bringing hope to residents in need. In its first year, the center had more than 3,600 patient visits.

Jones sees an average of 15 patients a week when she’s at the center on Fridays. For the patients she sees, the center is a blessing in their lives, she said.

Jane Pauley centers serve as health care safety nets for uninsured residents; doctors and nurse practitioners at the facilities see patients regardless of their ability to pay, meaning some residents without health insurance now have a doctor’s office in the county for the first time.

Before the center opened in Greenfield in late 2014, the nearest Jane Pauley Center was on Post Road in Indianapolis; there are eight others located across central Indiana.

Prior to Greenfield’s office opening, people in need often had to seek care in the emergency room or outside of Hancock County, meaning sick residents had to drive 15 miles or more to see a doctor, site manager Nicole Mann said.

Of the Greenfield center’s 3,600 patient visits last year, 1,389 were newcomers to the Jane Pauley network, Mann said.

“Those 1,300 new patient visits tell me there were 1,300 patients in the county who have gone without health care,” Mann said. “The need for the center is huge here.”

The clinic at 1107 N. State St. is open Monday through Friday and is staffed with a full-time nurse practitioner, and a doctor who sees patients on Friday. Hancock Regional Hospital paid $225,000 to build the clinic, and the center rents the space. Hancock Physicians Network staffs the facility.

The center is equipped with 10 exam rooms and offers primary health care — including preventive care and annual exams, management of chronic diseases, and acute care for injuries and illness.

Employees use a sliding-scale fee system based on patient income to determine how much a patient’s care will cost, and Hancock Physicians Network offices accept the sliding scale fee as well as part of a partnership with the center. That means patients are able to find offices that fit all of their health care needs, Mann said.

Up front, patients pay a $20 co-pay. Once they receive their final bill, they can opt into a payment plan.

The Jane Pauley Center is federally funded through the Health Resources and Services Administration and receives Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.

Daily, the center sees between 20 and 25 patients, Mann said. Some of them are seeking simple tests, while others have chronic illnesses that need to be treated.

Regardless of their health care needs, they’re grateful for the center, said Mann, who previously worked in private practice.

Brian Tackett and his 17-year-old daughter of Fishers come to Greenfield when they need to see a doctor. They began using the Jane Pauley Center when they lived in Lawrence Township in Indianapolis and have stayed because of the care they receive.

Getting an appointment is convenient, and the doctor and nurses are kind, compassionate and always listen to his concerns, Tackett said.

“They’re there for all of our health care needs, for whatever comes up,” he said.

Patients no longer need to worry about driving out of the county when they’re sick or receiving the high bills that come with a visit to the emergency room, Jones said.

And they’re able to seek care sooner, which means many are living healthier lives.

“Now, no matter what, they can have a doctor and a place to call their own,” she said. “We’re here to help … and give them a primary care provider they can count on.”

At a glance

The Jane Pauley Community Health Center in Greenfield treats patients regardless of their ability to pay. The center isn’t an urgent care clinic, so patients need to schedule an appointment before they can be treated.

To make an appointment, call 317-355-3770. Patients will need to bring their insurance card or financial information to their first appointment.

For more information, visit janepauleychc.com.

Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.