GREENFIELD — It’s been nine years since legendary broadcaster Jane Pauley attended the ribbon cutting for the Greenfield healthcare center that bears her name, on an unseasonably snowy spring morning in 2014.
Since then, the income-based clinic has served thousands of patients — including over 2,000 patients in 2022 alone — and is on track to serve even more this year thanks to the expansion.
The Jane Pauley Community Health Center — located at 1107 S. State Street, just south of McKenzie Road — more than doubled its size in recent months, jumping from 4,800 to just over 8,000 total square feet.
The expansion created five extra treatment rooms, a behavioral health and medical assistant area, a new conference room and a larger space to accommodate families, in addition to a free food pantry for clients.
Perhaps most importantly, it created better access to treatment for mental health.
The center’s staff of 16 now includes three therapists and two psychiatric nurse practitioners.
Practice manager Nicole Mann said the addition of behavioral services is helping address an ongoing need in Hancock County.
“That behavioral health piece is something that is extremely hard to come by in this county,” said Mann.
“There’s just such a tremendous need, and every provider is taxed at max capacity. For us to be able to add more (mental health services) to help the community has been tremendous,” she said.
The mental health component is changing the overall face of healthcare for clients, said Mann, providing a much more thorough degree of care.
“I think for a long time we had to turn away people who indeed their mental health needs met, but now we have the ability to say, ‘Sure, let’s get you an appointment.’ That has been such a relief for everyone in the office to know that patients can get their needs met in this building,” she said.
There’s been an increased focus on mental health services at all 15 Jane Pauley Community Health Centers, which are slowly rolling out the services at its clinics in Marion, Madison and Shelby counties.
Pauley, an iconic broadcast journalist who hosts CBS News Sunday Morning, grew up on the east side of Indianapolis, where she graduated from Warren Central High School. She has told Mann she has ties to Greenfield, including several late family members buried in Park Cemetery.
The Indiana University alumna, who now lives in New York, is a big proponent for mental health care. She’s been open with the public about her bipolar disorder diagnosis, which she said she keeps well managed through medication.
Mann knows that Pauley is proud of the mental health strides being made at the healthcare centers that bear her name.
The centers operate on a sliding income scale, serving many who are uninsured or under-insured.
“If people have healthcare benefits that are not that great they can come here and get the same great service they would get at their doctor’s office, but we can offer them some financial assistance,” said Mann, including affordable co-pays and the ability to pay over time.
Hilary Engleking, the local center’s health and outreach advocate, works with clients to help determine their level of eligibility.
“She signs them up for our sliding fee scale, helps with prescription assistance, and can help with marketplace open enrollment” for healthcare coverage, Mann said.
Engleking is also the one who most often leads clients to the center’s food pantry.
“The response to the food pantry has been great,” she said. “People are getting really excited about it and have been so appreciative. It’s really nice to provide them an additional service before they walk out the door, especially for those with transportation issues.”
While the Jane Pauley Center purchases food for the pantry, Engleking said donations are always welcome, including homegrown eggs and vegetables.
While she can’t quantify how much food has been given away so far, she can say that there’s already a need for a larger refrigerator.
Mann said the food giveaway is a great way to help feed clients, who often are instructed to eat certain foods before taking prescribed medications.
“It’s so nice to be able to say, ‘You can go into the food pantry in order to take the medicine we’re prescribing you.’ That’s a huge piece of this puzzle,” she said.
Engleking said the pantry is also a great way to offer healthy food options for the center’s clients, which includes a number of diabetics.
“To go buy those healthy foods can be so expensive, so being able to offer these options is really important for the all-around care of our patients,” she said.