Health services eye Marshall County
Medically underserved area could receive clinic
Friday, May 11, 2007
BY GARY L. SMITH
OF THE JOURNAL STAR
LACON - Because Marshall County has been designated a medically underserved area, two organizations are looking into the possibility of establishing a community health clinic in the area, the County Board was told Thursday.
A Chicago-area organization and another from southern Illinois are thinking of trying to open a federally qualified health-care center that could serve uninsured and low-income people as well as other residents, said Gene Huber, director of finance for the Peoria City/County Health Department. Marshall County's department is also administered by the Peoria agency.
An operation of that type in the Peoria area, Heartland Health Care, has decided not to pursue one here because of "political reasons" arising from the January opening of a new Methodist Medical Group Family Practice clinic in Lacon, Huber said. That facility, which has a full-time physician and nurse practitioner, replaced one that had closed a year earlier in rented space.
"Methodist was not in favor" of a community clinic in Marshall County, Huber told the board.
The interested Chicago-area group is Aunt Martha's Healthcare Network, a not-for-profit organization providing health care and social services in eight collar counties. The identity of the other organization was not available.
The Peoria clinic "thought it was kind of stepping on toes" in Marshall County, Huber said, "whereas these outside entities are not worried about that."
The county's status as underserved, which is shared by many others, was last updated in September, according to a Web site of the Illinois Department of Public Health's Center for Rural Health. Brian Tun, director of health promotion for the Peoria Health Department, said later that it's not certain whether that could be affected by the Methodist clinic.
But Tun said the designation arises from consideration of many factors besides the number of physicians or other providers, including the population and geographic size of an area, and the distance people have to travel for care.