The Story of a Community Coming Together to Revitalize Its Capacity for Healing

Project Wellspring is a capital campaign to raise funds for a new community health clinic in Topeka, Kansas. We're working with Stormont Vail Health and the Shawnee County Commission to expand our capacity to deliver quality healthcare to underserved residents.

Since coming to Topeka in the summer of 2016, our goal has been to expand both the capacity for care and the scope of medical services in Topeka. As an important first step, we've acquired a site for a new clinic at 1400 S.W. Huntoon, a former Dillon's grocery store. When completed, this new facility will replace our Capitol Family Clinic currently located on the grounds of Stormont Vail Health.

Contributions to Project Wellspring will allow us to transform the building from a grocery store to a health clinic. But the campaign is about more than renovating a building.

It's about bringing healing and a better quality of life to tens of thousands of Shawnee County residents. Then, as we make healthcare more accessible throughout Greater Topeka, the community as a whole will get healthier, in its workforce, its economy and its potential for growth.

The Need for More Healthcare

Did you know that there are more than 50,000 Topeka residents who are medically underserved? Many don't realize that Shawnee County is in dire need for expanded community healthcare. And even fewer know the toll this lack of healthcare is taking on residents.

According to the findings of the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) :

  • Almost 70% of adult residents are either overweight or obese, putting them at higher risk for diabetes, heart attacks or strokes.
  • As many as 17% of adults under the age of 65 do not have health insurance.
  • More than 45% of infants are not fully immunized by age two.
  • While infant mortality in Shawnee County has decreased, the rate is still higher than the state’s (6.8 per 1000 in Shawnee County, 6.4 per 1000 in Kansas).

A 2016 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) found five areas where Shawnee County needs to improve:

  1. Healthy Eating & Active Living
  2. Babies & Youth
  3. Access to Care & Chronic Conditions
  4. Social Determinants
  5. Mental Health & Substance Abuse

It became clear that private, nonprofit management like GraceMed's would provide a better service model for the expansion of care that was clearly needed.

We have a proven record for growing capacity for quality healthcare among underserved populations. We currently serve one in every 10 patients in Wichita and one of every 20 community health patients statewide. Our plan for growth in Topeka starts with a five-year goal to increase the 5,000 residents currently being served to 25,000.

More Services for More of the Underserved

In Shawnee County, the two community health clinics have provided limited access to affordable medical care, and virtually no healthcare in other clinical areas. GraceMed’s presence will expand the capacity for medical care and the range of healthcare services provided to the underserved.

Having a medical home that serves as a one-stop shop for all the medical needs in a family is no less important for Topeka's underserved than it is for any other residents. Our new clinic will provide dentistry, optometry, behavioral healthcare and an in-house pharmacy where medications can be purchased through programs designed to lower their cost.

  • Our dentists will offer preventative and restorative dental care for children and adults, and our oral outreach program will send hygienists into area schools and retirement communities.
  • Our optometrists will provide an affordable way for low-income families to get the eye care they need, including the their children whose good vision is critical to success in school.
  • Our therapists and psychologists will meet behavioral health needs for those whose limited resources put such care out of reach. Mental health providers will coordinate with primary care professionals to treat the whole patient seamlessly.

A medical home is best built around the needs of the patient. Our new clinic will form the hub of a future network of clinics designed to bring patient-centered care closer to our patients’ homes.

Building a New Future for Two Historic Neighborhoods

The new 23,000 sq.ft. GraceMed Health Center will be located just a few minutes south of Storming Vail Health and St. Francis Health with access to public transportation. We expect 10,000 patients will visit this clinic in a typical year. To accommodate these patients, the facility will include: 

  • 25 medical exam rooms
  • 14 dental operatories
  • An optometry clinic
  • 3 suites for behavioral health consulting
  • A pharmacy

The pod-based design incorporates the latest research on the effective delivery of population-based medicine and the medical home model of care. The new center will also include a large conference room that will be used to support a variety of health education programs and community meetings.

But the vision of Project Wellspring goes well beyond the footprint of the center itself. To fully appreciate the value of the project, you have to understand its relationship to the neighborhood around it.

The new clinic will serve College Hill and Tennessee Town, two beloved Topeka neighborhoods that figure prominently in the city’s history. Taken together with the Highland Park location and a proposed school-based clinic in northeast Topeka, access to healthcare will improve for thousands of underserved residents.

Success Is Measured in Patients Served, Faith Exercised and Trust Earned

Since our founding in 1979, GraceMed has expanded our network of Federally Qualified Health Clinics to include 12 locations in Wichita, two in Topeka and a new one opening this year in McPherson. As a nonprofit, our growth has always been a tribute to the generous support of the communities we serve.

Our Christian mission inspires and informs our commitment to our patients and our communities. Just as we've earned the trust of our patients through quality of our care, we’ve repaid the trust of our donors through our faithful and effective stewardship of their support.

We already have commitments for a substantial portion of our total costs. Our goal is $2,370,000. Our stretch goal of $3,300,000 will enable us to build Topeka’s first GraceMed school-based clinic. We've worked with the Topeka school district to identify the site for a new clinic on the grounds of an elementary/middle school campus in the northeast corner of the city. This clinic will be a medical home for children as well as their families.