Beloit Daily News April 7, 2004 Guest Commentary One of Beloit's best-kept secrets - Beloit Daily News: Home

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Beloit Daily News April 7, 2004 Guest Commentary One of Beloit's best-kept secrets

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Posted: Wednesday, April 7, 2004 12:00 am

One of the hottest topics in the media today is quality health care for everyone, and affordable drugs.

This is a big election year, with lots of promises to win our votes, and when the dust settles and all the flag waving stops, and all is said and done, we still need a place to receive quality health care for everyone, no matter what age, color, economic status, insured, under insured, or no insurance. Beloit Area Community Health Center is that place.

BEFORE I GO ON, I would like to salute and thank some politicians and partners that have been a great part of our support team at the highest level, county, state and federal. They are Gov. Jim Doyle, Sen. Judy Robson, and Rep. Dan Schooff. At the local level I would like to say “thank you” to our local partners, Beloit Memorial Hospital, Beloit City Council, Beloit Clinic, Mercy Health Care System and Aurora Pharmacy.

It seems like only yesterday that the idea of a community health center was such an overwhelming project, yet here we are today, Beloit Area Community Health Center (BACHC) at 74 Beloit Mall, (608) 361-0311.

In 1996 a feasibility study was done in cooperation with Southwest Wisconsin Area Health Center, the Fourth Street Center, Beloit Memorial Hospital, and Beloit Health Department. This study confirmed the need for a community health center. The demographic facts included who the people are, what they do, where they work, where they live, and information about the percentage of insured, under insured, or no health insurance at all, and, of course, the local economy.

IN LATE 1997 I received a letter saying I had been referred as a possible candidate to serve on the board of directors for a community health center in our city. To say the least, I felt honored to be part of such a great project. Beloit Memorial Hospital was the setting for the board meetings; we would like to thank Mr. Greg Britton and the wonderful staff at Beloit Memorial Hospital for being such gracious hosts.

The original board of directors represented a good cross section of the stake-holders in this project. There were educators, bankers, health care providers, a pastor, potential users, city administrator, and bilingual representation. They were Jane Wood, Juan-Sonja Bell, Barb Sharp, Tom Nightingale, Hugo Henry, Judy Haselhorst, Dorothy Owens, Anna Marie Johnson, Booker Street, Dr. Cheryl Peterson, Catharine Clark, Pastor Tom Wanner, Annie Dale Harrell, Oralia Cardenas, Miesha Hobson, Mrs. Joann Evans, Cathy Dean, Dave Bolen, and Dr. Kenneth Gold. Some of the Ad-Hoc Committee members were Ms. Claudette Cummings, Cindy Lohrentz, and Dr. Burandt. Together we set course to build a strong primary care facility. Our goal was but one, to build a quality and well coordinated community health clinic.

WE ARE PROUD of the progress we have made. Transforming the old retail areas at the Beloit Mall into a viable health care facility, seeing the walls go up, breathing new life into an otherwise dead space, was amazing. Our vision had become a reality from the waiting room to the exam rooms; an environment created to deliver quality medical care to the Greater Beloit community and the surrounding area.

BACHC has encountered some stigmas such as “free clinic,” “poor people's clinic,” only serving certain ethnic groups, etc. None of this is true. BACHC is open to the whole community, not only in our immediate community but throughout the Stateline Area. We place a high premium on BACHC and its many partners. In my opinion BACHC is Beloit's best kept secret and it's time we speak louder about it. It is a beautiful facility; you have to see it to believe it.

In 1998 the doors of BACHC were opened with pride. Our executive director was in place. Because the times in which we live demand people of vision, we are blessed to have Mr. Richard Perry serving as our executive director. The degree and sincerity with which Richard performs his duties accounts for the steady progress of BACHC.

INDEED THE cornerstone of BACHC is its outstanding staff. You can rely on BACHC's professional staff to assess your health needs and prepare you for receiving qualified health care. You will also obtain care in a timely and appropriate manner from our board certified physicians, our nurse practitioner, the administrative staff, the certified nursing assistants, the receptionist and all the dedicated behind-the-scene staff that I don't mention. And of course we cannot forget our past directors who dedicated their time and service in the last five years to help BACHC to carry on its dedicated mission. They are: Dorothy Owens, Hugo Henry, Frank Carroll, Betty Carroll, Ken Davis, Amy Hume, Geri Piedlow, Dr. Kenneth Gold, Dave Bolen, and Joann Smith.

While BACHC observed a milestone (five years this past June) that marks achievements which can never be measured by ordinary standards, it is not only helping its community, it is facing an opportunity for expansion, with additional services and new service area.

BY THE WAY, the reason I know so much about the service at BACHC, is that I am a user of BACHC for my primary health care. Now to this end, we, the sitting board of directors remain dedicated to meeting the challenges that face the health care system in our community.

The sitting Board of Directors is as follows: Barbara Sharp, president; Teresa Henderson, vice president; Karen Hall, secretary; and Cecila Dever, treasurer.

Members are Roell Benavides, Laura Cooper, Ron Del Ciello, Annie Dell Harrell, James Jeffalone, Lyles Jeffalone, Beth King, Minnie Murry, Tonia Romero, Brenda Townsend, Paulette Steinke-Zierfuss.

Barbara Sharp of Beloit is president of the Beloit Area Community Health Center's Board of Directors.


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