(Austin, TX.) — Central Health, The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing (UT School of Nursing), and Travis County Emergency Services District (ESD) 11 announced Wednesday, Feb. 28 they are joining forces to open a new health center in Southeast Travis County.
The health center will be located next to the Travis County ESD 11 Fire Station 1101 at 9019 Elroy Rd., Del Valle, and is part of Central Health’s larger strategy to expand health services in parts of Travis County that have historically lacked access to health care.
“Central Health’s recent demographic report confirms more and more people with low income are living in – or moving to – the eastern parts of Travis County because Austin is becoming less and less affordable,” said Mike Geeslin, Central Health President and CEO. “As the population increases, residents need access to health care and pharmacies, transportation and groceries. Central Health is working with several partners to address these needs – we will only solve these challenges with our partners.”
The UT School of Nursing and Travis County ESD 11 are part of the Eastern Travis County Health & Wellness Collaboration – a coalition of community partners convened by Central Health to tackle the complex needs faced by residents of Eastern Travis County.
“Eighty percent of what we do as a fire department is medical care for people who are sick and injured,” said Fire Chief Ken Bailey, Travis County ESD 11. “This is an opportunity to change the lives of a very vulnerable population with significant health needs in Southeast Travis County. This strategy allows us to combine emergency health care with primary care and create one care team for the patient versus how it is now, when patients see the ambulance, fire department, emergency department and perhaps a primary care doctor.”
This co-location strategy is the result of months of ongoing conversations among key partners including Travis County Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Travillion and Travis County Precinct 4 Commissioner Margaret Gomez.
“To achieve prosperous lives, Travis County residents must first be able to achieve healthy lives,” Commissioner Gomez said. “This new partnership will do exactly that. By providing closer access to health care, families can focus on what’s important – their children, their jobs, and their family’s future.”
The health care center will be about 5,000 square feet, and will offer primary care, behavioral health, and dental care. It’s expected to open by the end of 2018. For nearly 25 years, the UT School of Nursing has provided health care to residents with low income at the Children’s Wellness Clinic near Del Valle Elementary School, but it only sees people up to 21 years of age. The new health center will serve children and adults.
“This new clinic allows us to create a family practice for individuals who have counted on us to care for their children since 1995,” said Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of the UT Austin School of Nursing. “You can imagine how difficult it is when sick parents and grandparents come to our clinic with sick children, but we’re limited on what we can do for the adults. Now we can offer a medical home for the entire family.”
Listening to the Community
In October 2017, Central Health held a series of community conversations to gather input on possible locations for temporary and permanent health centers. Attendees included residents, potential patients, Del Valle Independent School District representatives, and community advocates.
“In the next 18-24 months, we’ll have no less than four projects in Southeast Travis County,” said Larry Wallace, Central Health Enterprise Chief Administrative Officer. “This would be impossible without this collaboration with our partners and the community. It ensures Central Health’s decisions are well informed and include the local perspective.”