Saint Francis to open new Jackson clinic this summer
Wednesday, March 24, 2021 ~ Updated 9:36 AM
Saint Francis Healthcare System made partnerships with existing area physician practices a greater focus in 2009, expanding services and increasing its presence in Southeast Missouri communities.
The strategy started with Cape Physician Associates, then others — including two established physician practices in Jackson. But with two separate practices in Jackson, this ultimately led to “two disparate locations,” according to Jason Bandermann, MBA, vice president of Saint Francis Medical Partners Operations – Northeast.
Discussions about having a single, substantial presence in Jackson resulted in a decision to build a clinic at the previous location of Jackson Physicians Associates.
“Saint Francis’ goal is to provide excellent access to our patients,” Bandermann told B Magazine. “So we wanted to merge two locations into one, and make it really robust for the community of Jackson and the surrounding area.”
Construction on a new primary and urgent care located at 2130 E. Jackson Boulevard began in August 2020. It’s expected to be completed this summer.
In addition to typical primary care, the new clinic will offer urgent care services on nights and weekends, expanded imaging, and mental healthcare provided through licensed clinical social workers.
Two to three physicians and four to six advanced practice providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, will staff the facility. Two physicians have been identified — Laura Glueck, DO and Jenny M. Eichhorn, MD — along with two nurse practitioners — Magin L. Chapman, RN, FNP-BC and Crystal A. Wekenborg, FNP-BC.
He said the expansion benefits local businesses.
“To have urgent care offerings where patients can access the right care at the right location is really important, and will alleviate expensive visits to the emergency room,” he said. “Saint Francis finds it vital to have those offerings in various locations in Southeast Missouri.”
There will also be extended hours during the week and weekend where patients can walk in and receive care on an acute basis.
With the expansion of services and growth of the practice overall, Saint Francis estimates they will see an increase to around 25,000 annual visits at the new location.
“This facility and premises will definitely be more spacious and easier to access with newer accommodations,” Bandermann said, promising more parking than the previous facility offered.
Thinking ahead to further expansion, Saint Francis purchased the adjacent property, but they don’t plan to use that space for now. Instead of building in phases for anticipated growth, they decided to build vertically.
“We plan to finish just the first floor, with the second floor being an expansion opportunity,” Bandermann said. “The adjacent property will eventually give us additional parking to support that expansion on the second floor.”
Saint Francis plans to have the new Jackson clinic open for business around the first of July, with no lapse in services. Bandermann expects it will be a seamless process.
“We’ll open up the new building, and move everything in, probably on a Friday,” he said. “And Monday, we’ll be open in the new building.”
Staying open the entire time was “one of the most unique things about the project,” he said. They positioned a construction trailer on site to continue offering care throughout the project.
It was also one of the rules to maintain the Rural Health Clinic designation, which the previous practice had and was a priority for Saint Francis. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gives the designation to clinics located in rural areas identified as a shortage area. The clinics receive enhanced reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid services, Bandermann said, and it’s beneficial to the community.
He stated that they want to keep people out of the hospital, where much of the cost of healthcare is accrued, by investing in the early portals of health care delivery — primary and urgent care.
“We still want to have a thriving Medical Center for people to come to, but the focus has extended to outside those walls. And that’s where our business has transitioned over time, to the focus on enhancing our primary care services and enhancing our access and urgent care offerings.”
The cost of healthcare goes down tremendously if care can be managed outside of the hospital within a network of integrated ambulatory services with a focus on high quality and low cost, Bandermann said.
At a price tag of $7.5 million, Bandermann believes the Jackson project is likely to be one of the largest construction projects in the area, especially during the pandemic. In addition, the project has been beneficial to many area companies. Saint Francis focused on using local resources, including a local general contractor and any local subcontractor or tradesmen when possible.
“That’s where I believe we can make the biggest economic impact as an organization – partnering with employers,” Bandermann said.
“It’s a really exciting project for the community.”