The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s (LAGLC) board of directors approved on Monday a plan to remodel the center’s medical clinic. The plan would add four exam rooms and enlarge the clinic’s laboratory. The plan also allowed for the hiring of an additional doctor, which came just in the nick of time.
“We were nearing capacity for the number of people we could help,” CEO Lorri L. Jean said. “The addition of another doctor will give us room to see hundreds of more people.”
The clinic’s patient capacity is currently at 2,600 and Jean said nearly 2,400 people use the center’s clinic as their primary health care facility. The clinic is located on the third floor of the McDonald/Wright Building, 1625 N. Schrader Blvd., and houses the Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic for treating people with HIV and AIDS, as well as a pharmacy that fills approximately 100,000 prescriptions annually. Other services offered in the clinic include breast and cervical cancer screening, birth control services, and other primary medical care services to people without HIV or AIDS.
There are currently seven doctors on staff at the medical center, with one working half-time with non-HIV patients. In 2010, the clinic’s staff saw more than 2,200 patients dealing with HIV or AIDS alone.
The clinic currently has 10 exam rooms where doctors can meet with their patients and do everything from weighing them to taking blood. The laboratory’s expansion is also a major component of the proposed remodel, due to the high volume of patients visiting the clinic.
“We are going to have more lab work to do because of the extra patients and we need more space,” Jean said.
Jean estimated the remodel will cost about $500,000. Jean hoped the money would come from federal grant money acquired by becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
“Right now we are a Federally Qualified Health Center look-alike,” Jean said.
While that distinction does bring some benefits from extra funding resources, it does not allow the LAGLC access to as many revenue streams if they got full FQHC status. Without FQHC status, the LAGLC does not have access to capital funds that are used for facilities management, such as the remodel.
“You also get $650,000 a year for medical care with that status,” Jean said.
The LAGLC applied for FQHC status in December and hopes to get the decision in the summer. Acquiring FQHC status would possibly allow for more changes and upgrades to the clinic in the future. But gaining FQHC status is highly competitive, with thousands of organizations applying for 300 slots. If the LAGLC does not qualify, Jean said the center would use money from its reserve fund to bankroll the remodel.
“The good news is the new doctor will bring in enough business to pay for the remodel in time,” Jean said. “But hopefully, we get approved and will not have to worry about it.”
The LAGLC will now send out requests for proposals on the remodel to contractors and architecture firms. Evaluating the proposals and picking a contractor could take a few months and Jean said actual work on the remodel could start in the summer and be done before the end of the year.
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