Project Wellspring’s rising fundraising tide lifts all hopes for affordable healthcare

Imagine you’re living in a central Topeka household with an income of less than $1,000 per month for a single person. Or you’re a family of four making only $2,050 a month.

Making ends meet can obviously be a challenge. You or a family member are likely to get sick more often than people living in more affluent zip codes. And if you’re lucky enough to have health insurance, it probably comes with a deductible so high, you wonder why you pay the premiums.

If you’re uninsured or underinsured, you have virtually no affordable options to get the care you need — until now.

GraceMed to the Rescue

There’s a plan in place to change all that. It’s called Project Wellspring, and it began early in 2016 with the purchase of the property at 1400 S.W. Huntoon that once was a Dillons grocery store.

Our vision for the property is to create a center for holistic healthcare that will also help to revive the quality of life in Tennessee Town and other Central Topeka neighborhoods. With more than 23,000 square feet, we will be able to move our Capitol Family Clinic, currently located near Stormont Vail, into a facility that also offers dental, vision and behavioral health care as well as an in-house pharmacy. Beyond that, we have undeveloped room on the property that we envision could be made available for other health-related businesses or organizations.

— Dave Sanford, GraceMed CEO

GraceMed is a faith-based health care provider. We accept all patients regardless of their ability to pay. As a Federally Qualified Health Center, we accept Medicare and Medicaid, and patients who have no insurance can qualify for reduced fees based on their income.

The community springs into action

Alice Weingartner, GraceMed's director of community development in Topeka, has led the campaign to fund the renovations necessary to turn a grocery store into a health clinic. As the drive enters 2018, she is happy to report that a “wellspring” of what GraceMed calls “hopecare” is close to erupting.

We were blessed to have the early support of community leaders like Stormont Vail, the Shawnee County Commission, the St. Francis Foundation and the Capitol Federal Foundation. We met more than 74% of our $3.94 million goal within the first year of our campaign. Then we were fortunate to receive a challenge grant from the Mabee Foundation. Receiving this award essentially reduces the amount we still need to raise by $500,000.

— Alice Weingartner

Alice-Weingartner-and-Dave-Sanford.jpg

There are currently 25,000 Topekans who are considered to be medically underserved. The completion of this clinic will put GraceMed in a position to serve a significant number of them.

Left: GraceMed Director of Community Development Alice Weingartner and CEO Dave Sanford

In Wichita, GraceMed has established a partnership with local school districts to operate seven of its 12 clinics on school grounds.

“Project Wellspring has a stretch goal to raise an additional $930,000 that will enable us to build our first school clinic in Topeka,” Weingartner explained. “It’s a great way to build relationships with underserved families and help the schools with their healthcare needs at the same time. We’ve worked with the district to identify a good location for the first school-based clinic and anticipate it being located at the State Street Elementary and Chase Middle School campus in Topeka’s Oakland neighborhood.”

Hopecare Is Contagious

As GraceMed’s CEO will tell you, the impact of greater access to healthcare can be measured, not just in the quality of the lives of the patients, but also in a number of other ways.

As underserved patients get healthier, families are strengthened, the productivity of the workforce improves as does the economic health of an entire community. Then there’s the overall cost of healthcare for everyone which should be lower when fewer people are using emergency rooms as their doctor’s office.
— Dave Sanford, GraceMed CEO

While this is first and foremost a project to build a much-needed community health clinic, it is also an opportunity to complement the renewal of the proudly historic Tennessee Town neighborhood.

“In addition to being our state Capitol, Topeka has a rich history,” said Vince Frye, President & CEO of Downtown Topeka, Inc. “This new initiative is a great way to bring some fresh life to a part of our city that has always been important in that history. The residents there are really invested in their neighborhood’s health, and GraceMed’s presence will be an enormous enhancement.”

Would You like to Help Bring Quality Healthcare to Central Topeka?

Please make a donation online or contact Alice Weingartner at (785) 478-5901 or aweingartner@gracemed.org.