(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
"It really is coming together," said Daniel F. Brachman, chief executive officer of the Semo Health Network, looking up at the recently-built but still unpainted walls of the Sikeston Family Clinic's expansion.
And coming together fast. Construction began only about five weeks ago, and they hope to be using the new entrance and new, roomier waiting room and reception areas by Sept. 15.
"Nov. 1, we hope to start taking appointments for dental patients and start seeing medical patients in the new examination rooms using existing staff," Brachman said.
As with the clinics at New Madrid and Kennett, the cost of dental services at the Sikeston Family Clinic will be based on income. "There will be a 'sliding fee' so patients who don't have insurance can afford to see a dentist," said Brachman.
"We also accept Medicaid patients," added Debbie Wolford, site manager for the Sikeston facility, noting they will be the only dental facility to do so in the immediate area.
The clinic will focus on primary preventative and general dentistry with an emphasis on children, according to Brachman, offering cleanings, fillings, examinations, fluoride treatments, root canals and dentures.
"We will not be competing with private dentists," he said. "Our patients will be those who don't have access to a private dentist."
As a great many of those will be people who have Medicaid as their only payment source, Brachman said the new facilities are filling a need.
The clinic will also address transportation difficulties for patients who presently travel to the New Madrid clinic as well as scheduling complications at the Semo Health Network's existing dental facilities.
"The New Madrid and Kennett offices have dental services booked three months in advance because there's such a need for it," said Wolford.
In addition to a full-time dentist, the network is also seeking a dental hygienist for the Sikeston Family Clinic.
"That combination of a dentist and a dental hygienist is really best for our patients," Brachman said.
While most of the anticipation is focused on the addition of dental services, the expansion also provides room for two more physicians. "It's not just dental," said Brachman. "It will be dental and expanded medical - nine new medical examinations rooms as well as four dental."
Once the new entrance and reception areas are in operation, the cramped, old reception area and waiting room will be remodeled into three additional medical exam rooms, and another six are being built in the expansion area, according to Brachman.
Brachman said the network hopes to recruit a pediatrician and family practitioner to fill the additional space as physician services in the expansion area will focus on providing prenatal care on through the first two trimesters, after which patients will be referred to their delivery doctor for the final trimester. "We feel that is a need in the community for our patients," said Brachman.
The new reception areas and floor plan also provide for improved "patient flow," Brachman said, with separate check-in and check-out windows for the medical and dental services.
Brachman noted the clinic has space reserved for future growth, with rough plans for a second phase to use up to 5,000 square feet of additional space if needed to serve the community.
The Sikeston Family Clinic is one of six Semo Health Network facilities in Southeast Missouri.
"We are a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide preventative and general medical and dental care for individuals who can't access private medical and dental care," Brachman said. "We see the uninsured and underinsured in the Bootheel."