by: Capella Tucker, May 3, 2006 5:05:00 am
The clinic started in 2000 in donated space. It had one physician, three exam rooms and managed to serve 6,000 children a year. Texas Children's Pediatric Associates President Ayse McCracken says the third ward community was in need of more services.
"Ten percent of our emergency activity comes from this area. So we recognize that families don't have the care they need in their neighborhood and we want to be able to provide that for them."
Medical services in a clinic setting is more efficient then being treated in emergency room ... both in terms of time spent in a waiting room and money. McCracken says an office visit can cost less then $100 while an emergency room visit for the same services can cost more than $500. Doctor Desiree Evans leads the new clinic location which is now in a five-thousand square foot facility with 12 exam rooms. Evans says they don't turn any one away. Evans says it can be difficult telling a family with no insurance that this is a clinic they can bring their children.
"We tell them, listen, we rather you coming to our clinic. You wait maybe an hour or two instead of you going to the emergency room and wait six or seven. And when you say that and put it in those terms, then you know, we can help you not miss work, we can help you make sure that your child is OK and not have to sit in the emergency room all that time, assist you in facilitating different things that will keep your child healthy, keep you working, keep your family and household healthy."
Evans says they do help families connect with insurance ... that was the case for Belinda Vasquez. She brings one eleven year old daughter and three grandchildren.
"Well I was recommended here by another friend because at that time I did not have insurance. And they were willing to see my daughter without charging me. So that's how I started getting involved and that's when they started keeping up with me to bring my children even if I didn't have funds for me to go ahead and keep bringing them and they would take care of them. They helped me to get insurance through CHIP."
CHIP is the Children's Health Insurance Program and Vasquez says the clinic has helped her make sure her family is properly enrolled through all the changes that the program has gone through.
Officials have identified two other areas lacking pediatric services. Although no plans are currently in place, they are looking at the north side of Houston around the loop between 45 and 59 and on Houston's east side. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.