Audubon Area Community Care Clinic plans move for early November

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Samantha Taylor-Kaai, clinic program director of Audubon Area Community Care Clinic (AACCC), stands in the clinic on Tuesday at 9th and Center Streets. The AACCC is moving to the Bridgewater Medical Center building at 750 Salem Drive in early November.

Audubon Area Community Care Clinic has outgrown its current space and plans to relocate in early November.

The clinic, which is operated by Audubon Area Community Services, is at East Ninth and Center streets on the southeast corner of Wendell Foster's campus, where the former McAuley Clinic operated. AACCC is expected to leave that spot in late October and reopen at 750 Salem Drive in early November.

"We have leased the second floor of the Bridgewater Medical Center ... ," said Brandon Harley, AACS deputy CEO. "The Bridgewater Medical Center has been a long-standing medical center .... and had space available to lease which could easily be modified to meet our patient needs and our agency mission of delivering quality, integrated health care and human services for vulnerable and homeless individuals and families in the Green River area."

AACCC has experienced tremendous growth since opening in July 2017. During the second half of that year, the clinic had a unique patient count of 123.

That number jumped to 573 the following year. With four months left in this year, the patient count already stands at 563.

The clinic has increased its staff and medical providers and added services, including behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment. In addition, earlier this year, AACCC started offering hepatitis C treatments.

AACCC was recently awarded a $167,000 integrated behavioral health services funding award from the Health Resource Services Administration. Harley said those funds will be used for psychiatric nurse practitioner services that will provide behavioral health treatment, substance use disorder treatment and behavioral health medication management services.

"We plan to move, in earnest, with these services right after the first of the year," he said.

AACS leases the building at East Ninth and Center streets from Wendell Foster. The clinic's move comes at a beneficial time for Wendell Foster, which is experiencing growing pains of its own.

Over the past 18 months, the two health care agencies have had conversations about the lease. Prior to signing this year's agreement, the two agencies agreed to a six-month lease.

For more than a year, Wendell Foster officials have been reassessing and re-imagining their campus. They razed the All-Faith Chapel and two other structures on Triplett Street to make way for the future.

"Our initial plans are to use (the AACCC clinic) to accommodate our growing need for space," said Eric Scharf, Wendell Foster CEO.

But that's only for the short-term, he said. At some point, he expects the building to be assessed to discern if it can support future campus needs or if it needs to give way for a state-of-the-art facility that could accommodate future growth.

At this time, however, such ideas will sit on a back burner because Wendell Foster is focused on building its $3.5 million outpatient therapy facility.

Last year, the nonprofit started a multiphase expansion project that completed a $270,000 maintenance facility in 2018. This year saw the groundbreaking for Phase II — the outpatient therapy expansion.

In Phase III, Wendell Foster plans to build a new dietary, inventory and laundry facility.

In all, early estimates projected the three-phase project to cost a total of about $6 million.

Scharf said it has been a pleasure to work with AACCC. "I am happy to hear they found another location to continue the great work they do for the community of Owensboro."

Harley said the AACCC's current location has 3,800 square feet. By comparison, the second floor of the Bridgewater Medical Center offers 5,200 square feet. The number of exam rooms will double from three to six.

Right now, AACS is working to hire a contractor to complete minor modifications on the new clinic location. Harley expects that work to begin early next month.

Also, AACS is working with city officials to place a bus stop as close as possible to the new site.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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