Filling a need

Dr. Katy Hartman, left, takes Richelle Keinath’s blood pressure Wednesday afternoon at the University of Wyoming Health Sciences Educational Health Center of Wyoming Albany Community Health Clinic.

SHANNON BRODERICK/Boomerang photographer

SHANNON BRODERICK

A new University of Wyoming health clinic could fill a community need by providing affordable health care to low-income families, the clinic’s director said.

“This is a clinic for everyone in the community,” said Richelle Keinath, clinic director for the UW Health Sciences’ Educational Health Center of Wyoming Albany Community Health Clinic. “This is one little thing we can do to help people in Laramie have better health care.”

Located at 920 Sheridan St., Suite A, the clinic opened Wednesday and shares space with the Wyoming Health Fairs.

“We’ve already seen more patients than we anticipated,” said Dr. Katy Hartman, medical director for the UW Health Sciences’ Educational Health Center of Wyoming Albany Community Health Clinic. “We had two come in this morning and another scheduled for this afternoon. That’s pretty good since we just got the telephones up yesterday.”

While the Downtown Clinic provides health care to families with income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, Keinath said the Albany Community Health Clinic can provide health care at a reduced cost to families with income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The clinic uses a sliding-fee scale to determine the cost of care, but because it is federally funded, Keinath said they are required to charge a $5 nominal fee for each visit.

Although emergencies such as immediate care should be directed to the Ivinson Memorial Hospital’s emergency care facilities, Hartman said the clinic will function as an average doctor’s office.

“If you had strep throat, diabetes or broke your toe, you could come here,” Keinath said. “It’s a wide variety of ‘I need a doctor’ situations that could bring you here. You could use this as your primary care physician, and that’s what we’re hoping people will do.”

But Hartman said building a client base can be challenging for a clinic serving low-income families.

“People have the misconception that if you go to a clinic that serves the poor, it’s somehow worse health care,” Hartman said. “But I would say we just have a more idealistic health care team.”

Currently, Keinath and Hartman are the clinic’s only staff, but Keinath said they were in the process of hiring a person to operate the front office, an advanced-practice nurse and a registered nurse.

A graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine, Hartman is a board-certified family medicine physician. Before becoming the clinic’s medical director, she worked as a staff physician at the UW Student Health Service.

Keinath, a UW graduate, said she has worked with the Laramie community for more than two decades.

“I was the co-director at the Eppson Center for Seniors, then I ran the Wyoming Women’s Foundation for six years,” she said. “And most recently, I ran Laramie Reproductive Health Clinic. It may sound a little corny, but all the positions I’ve had are centered around helping people. I guess I’m just trying to make the world a better place.”

Funded by a federal grant, the clinic is Laramie’s only federally qualified health center, a UW news release states.

“We receive no state money and no university money,” Keinath said. “It’s a three-year grant, so we have three years to make it or break it.”

Hartman said the key to ensuring the clinic could continue operating would be attracting clientele both with and without insurance.

“(People) can support this by just choosing to come here,” Hartman said.

Once the clinic attracts a solid patient base, Hartman said she hopes to see UW use the clinic for medical education.

“We can use this site to help educate people in the medical field, not just doctors,” she said. “There’s lot of different departments in the university that could participate.”

The clinic is scheduled to be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays.

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