Lorain County Health & Dentistry Builds New Clinic


Briana Santiago

A construction worker plows through the worksite of the new Lorain County Health & Dentistry clinic at 260 South Main Street. The clinic is expected to open in early 2016.

Oliver Bok, Editor in Chief

Health care in Oberlin broke new ground this week as construction of the Lorain County Health & Dentistry clinic at 260 South Main Street began.

“The goal is to bring affordable primary and preventive health care to people of all ages who live in Oberlin and all of the surrounding communities,” said LCHD President and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Wiersma. “We want to improve access for southern Lorain county [so] folks can be sure that they can get health care. Whether insured or uninsured, we discount our fees for qualifying patients based on federal guidelines.”

The new clinic will employ 16–20 staff members, including doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists and an optometrist. The roughly 6,800-square-foot building will include a dental laboratory and exam rooms for prenatal care. According to Wiersma, the clinic will open sometime in the first quarter of 2016.

LCHD currently runs four facilities, two in Lorain and two in Elyria. The clinic in Oberlin is meant to make LCHD services more accessible not only to Oberlin but also to the whole southern part of Lorain county. According to City Manager Eric Norenberg, the location is ideal.

“It’s a super location because it’s right near Oberlin Community Services, and there’s a pharmacy across the street,” Norenberg said. “We think it’s being positioned in a neighborhood that will be easily served and necessarily served by the types of services that they offer, but it’s also convenient to the whole southern part of the county being right off of State Route 58.”

While LCHD is paying for the cost of building the new clinic, a federal grant earned in May will help pay for the early operation of the clinic as the patient base in Oberlin grows. Roughly 20 percent of LCHD’s funding comes from federal grants.

The group also recently received a $266,000 grant from a fund for community health ventures in the Affordable Care Act. According to Wiersma, the grant will pay for four new positions and help the organization reach an additional 1,300 patients by the end of 2017.

“Local health centers are critical access points for Ohioans in need of quality, affordable health care,” Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said in a press release announcing the grant. “Funding from the health law helps keep open community health centers so more families can access their primary and preventive care. These awards will allow centers to hire more health providers, improve facilities and enroll more Ohioans in health care coverage.”

Wiersma said she hopes the success that LCHD has had in applying for federal grants translates into better access to health care for the community.

“There is a story about need in our area, and we’ve been able to tell it successfully, with the outcome, of course, being accessible health care and hopefully a healthier community.”

As construction of the new clinic continues, LCHD currently has a mobile unit parked on the corner of the lot where they provide pediatric medicine on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, through which anyone can make an appointment.