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Living the Gospel of Hope through better health care access

A rendering of what the new health clinic and pharmacy planned in West Terre Haute, Indiana, will look like.

What if you didn’t have access to health care or a nearby pharmacy? More than 2,400 West Terre Haute, Indiana, residents lack access to basic health care. That number is only expected to increase in coming years. The poverty rate in the area is 28 percent and 15.5 percent of residents are uninsured.

Sister Dorothy Rasche, SP, director of the Sisters of Providence Connecting Link ministry in West Terre Haute, noticed the need among her neighbors. In 2017, then-school-superintendent Dr. Danny Tanoos called together Sister Dorothy, Dr. Randy Stevens, Tammy Pearson and other interested community members to discuss the issue. Dr. Stevens knew that T.J. Warren with Valley Professionals Community Health Center (VPCHC) was looking to open a new clinic. VPCHC agreed to work with Connecting Link and the local community to champion the building of a $1.2 million health clinic and pharmacy in West Terre Haute.

A need

Sister Dorothy knew health care access was an issue that needed to be tackled. “A person would go to the hospital with a serious condition and stay a few days. The person then misses work, loses their job and gets behind on paying utilities. It’s a domino effect,” Sister Dorothy said. Help needs to come sooner. “A convenient health care clinic/pharmacy is just one more service that is needed in a community for the community to thrive.”

Above, Sister Dorothy Rasche, in white, poses in front of the location of the future West Terre Haute health clinic with other volunteers who participated in a fundraising walk for the clinic.

“People will not wait until they are on their deathbed to go to the doctor if the clinic is within walking distance. Many residents don’t have a car or it’s broken down or out of gas,” said Sister Dorothy.

The planned clinic

The proposed 5,000 square-foot structure will include seven exam rooms, three mental health rooms, a nurse’s station, three offices, an information technology room, break room, mechanical room and five restrooms. The pharmacy will be 510 square feet with its own restroom.

“The clinic will provide a sliding fee scale so it will be affordable for everyone, even those without insurance. The important thing is that no one will be denied service because they can’t pay for it,” Sister Dorothy said.

Fundraising now

The new clinic will be located at 6th Street and National Avenue in West Terre Haute. The land was donated by local resident Patricia Minnis. VPCHC and the Connecting Link have raised close to $200,000 of the initial $500,000 needed through a matching grant of $50,000 from the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, $30,000 from Providence Housing Corp, $30,000 from the Sisters of Providence Foley Legacy Fund and other sources. A recent walk fundraiser generated $8,500 through sponsorships and contributions. Once the $500,000 goal is reached, VPCHC can apply for grants and additional loans.

The clinic will also bring jobs to West Terre Haute. VPCHC will employ doctors and staff for the new clinic. “They’ve already had staff request to work at the new clinic,” said Sister Dorothy. The clinic will also offer smoking cessation, drug rehab and mental health services.

Would you like to help? Send donations (earmarked for the West Terre Haute Health Clinic) to: Sister Dorothy Rasche, Connecting Link, 830 W. National Ave., West Terre Haute, IN, 47885 or to Valley Professionals Community Health Center, 777 Main St., Ste. 100, Clinton, IN, 47842.

(Originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Diane Weidenbenner

Diane Weidenbenner is the annual fund manager and donor relations for the Sisters of Providence Mission Advancement office. She's also a Providence Associate.

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