ST. GEORGE — The city of St. George has paved the way for Family Healthcare Clinic to consolidate offices to better serve the community.
The 30,000-square-foot building on the south side of East Riverside Drive between Taylor Andrews Academy School of Hair Design and Millcreek High School will house 23 exam rooms, three behavioral health rooms, a dentist office and pharmacy, as well as four administrative offices, eight office cubicles and a board room.
Lori Wright, CEO of Family Healthcare Clinic, said during a recent St. George City Council meeting that the building will replace the current location in downtown St. George along with a trailer on Millcreek High School that will be moved to the west side of the city.
Other clinic offices include one in Hurricane and two in Cedar City that will remain open.
The nonprofit and federally qualified health center receives about 24% of its funding from the U.S. Congress through a three-year funding grant.
“We have received this funding since 2002,” Wright said. “We anticipate receiving this funding as long as people need health care.”
More than half of the clinics’ patients are uninsured, Wright added, and the federal grant helps offset the “steep discounts” offered to that segment of the communities.
“It doesn’t take care of all of it,” she said. “The rest is billed through insurance, other grants and wonderful partnerships.”
During the past year, Family Healthcare served more than 14,000 patients in 54,000 visits, and the new building will help the St. George clinic grow.
The clinics offer health screenings to examine an individual for a disease or a health disorder. Most screening tests are done in an effort to catch a disease in its earliest stage, preferably before the onset of symptoms.
Other health services include discounted immunizations for those qualified, women’s health care, management of acute and chronic health issues and medication-assisted treatment.
Family Healthcare treatment is focused on the integration of the mind and the body.
According to the clinic’s website, integrated care is “care that results from a practice team of primary care and behavioral health clinicians, working together with patients and families, using a systematic and cost-effective approach to provide patient-centered care.”
One important component of services is mental health, Wright said at the City Council meeting.
“We have behavioral health workers working right alongside our medical providers,” Wright added. “We are doing this to address the emotional needs our patients have, some of the depression and suicide issues that Washington and Iron counties face.”
According to the Public Health Indicator Based Information System from 2016 to 2018, the age-adjusted suicide rate in Utah was 22.2 per 100,000 persons, with an average of 647 suicides per year.
Utah had the fifth-highest age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States during this time period.
In 2018, suicide was the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10 to 17. It is the second leading cause of death for ages 18-24 and ages 25 to 44 and the fifth leading cause of death for ages 45-64.
Overall, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for Utah residents, but suicide deaths are only part of the problem. More people are hospitalized or treated in emergency rooms for suicide attempts than are fatally injured.
St. George Mayor Jon Pike said he is amazed at how much Family Healthcare Clinics have grown over the years, being part of the initial conversations of the startup.
“Between the (Doctor’s Free Clinic) which are related but different … they help many people in our community,” Pike said. “We have seen them both skyrocket in volume (of patients) and types of services. This is an incredible mission they have.”
Wright estimates the clinics have doubled in size in the past five years, starting with 33 employees that now number more than 100.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Wright said. “It is our pleasure to serve.”
Those who are having thoughts of suicide, regardless of age, or who are seeking help for a friend or family member are encouraged to call either Teen Lifeline’s 24-hour hotline at 800-248-8336 or the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.
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