A new primary care clinic is bringing a suite of services to an area of Columbia that has lacked access to nearby medical care.
The modern, rectangular building at 7115 E. St. Charles Road stands out in the area, where older homes and tree-lined streets surround it. But from the window of one break room, construction on a new neighborhood can be seen, a sign of the growing need for the facility.
The Battle Avenue Medical Building, which opens Monday in northeast Columbia, is part of MU Health Care’s mission to make access to medical care more readily available to residents throughout Columbia and will be the first truly integrated clinic, according to Ashley Millham, medical director of the new clinic.
“It’s all about access from where people are living,” Millham said. “MU Health Care leadership identified this area as not having convenient access to primary care.”
Kirsten Caleon, practice manager at the new Battle Avenue Clinic, said the clinic is a response to the growing population in the area.
Unlike other clinics, the Battle clinic will feature family health, women’s health, pediatrics, psychiatry, physical therapy, radiology and a pharmacy all in one building and in the same work flow. Family medicine is on the left side of the building, with the other services on the right.
“With an area of the community that does not currently have convenient access to primary care, it would be ideal for them to be able to access a full-spectrum primary care,” Millham said.
The clinic has over 30 exam rooms: 18 for family medicine, eight standard OB rooms, one ultrasound room, one treatment room, one non-stress test room and four psychiatry rooms.
During the process of construction, which began in fall 2019, the pandemic hit. Construction crews were able to create separate rooms without medical equipment in them for virtual “telemedicine” visits and prepare the area with plenty of plexiglass and space for social distancing without needing reconstruction.
Brandyn Patel, a physician assistant in psychiatry, said the virtual visits can be helpful for seeing the environment around her patients.
“But I do miss seeing people face to face,” she said.
The walls all over the clinic feature what Caleon calls “environmental branding” that feature simple sentences such as “I am Brave” to quotes from Helen Keller such as, “Alone we can do little; together we can do so much.”
MU Health Care supplies financial counselors to help mitigate costs for the uninsured.
“That’s kind of the goal here,” Millham said, “we want to be able to serve anyone in this area, anyone in the community.”
According to Millham, 37 patients are already scheduled to come in on Monday and 52 are scheduled for Tuesday.