Flanked by construction workers and leaders of Jordan Valley Community Health Center, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson was in west-central Springfield on Friday morning for a "brick-breaking" ceremony at Jordan Valley's Grand Clinic. Phase one of the clinic is expected to be complete next spring.
The future use of the building at 1720 W. Grand St. will be largely as an outpatient surgery center and a clinic for women's and children's health, including OBGYN and dental services, officials said.
Jordan Valley mainly provides primary care for low-income people lacking health insurance. When it acquired the Grand Street property earlier this year, officials said they expected to see more individuals seeking health care as Medicaid expansion, approved by voters in 2020, comes online. Observers expect some 275,000 Missourians to potentially enroll in Medicaid.
Jordan Valley's role in caring for women and children at the new clinic presents a "huge opportunity" and contributes to Missouri's workforce, Parson told the News-Leader.
"If you look at the kids' side of it, you got to make sure these kids have the health care needs ... because you want them to get an education. You want to keep them in school. I want to keep them in a healthy environment, just for their future."
Parson added, "I think when you look at women's health care, we know how important that is. Anything we can do on the prevention side of it is much better off to the state. It's much better off with the communities, and you get people out there back in a healthy environment, get them into the workforce, keep them in the workforce, and give them the tools they need just for everyday life that some of us take for granted. And I think Jordan Valley is going to do a great job of that, they're just a first-class organization."
While delivering a brief speech, Parson commented on state government efforts to increase Missouri's workforce during a time of turbulence in the labor market: Many jobs are open but attract few applicants. The governor praised Jordan Valley's apprenticeship training programs in medical and dental fields, along with the construction workers building out the new clinic.
"You're the dignitaries that are here because you're the future of our state," Parson told the workers, after a series of local and state elected leaders were recognized by other speakers at the podium.
Parson touched on unemployment in Missouri, noting that while 400,000 Missourians were drawing unemployment insurance at the height of the pandemic last year, only 15,000 are doing so now, even as 100,000 jobs remain unfilled across the state. Missouri unemployment is currently at 2.9 percent of the workforce, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the lowest since October 2018.
He touted a Missouri educational grant program for "high-need" industries, Fast Track, for helping bring adults 25 and older with low to moderate incomes into the labor market with better jobs. Parson said 80 percent of Fast Track grant recipients turned out to be women, most of whom went into health care jobs.
Parson called Missouri's $6.5 million in taxpayer spending on the new Jordan Valley clinic "probably one of the best investments we have." Jordan Valley said another $1 million to fund the clinic came from Healthy Blue, an insurance product offered by Missouri Medicaid, or MO HealthNet, while the remaining money came from federal support and private donations.
The clinic is a 50,000-square-foot building at Grand Street and Kansas Expressway. Constructed in 1997, it operated for many years as a Price Cutter grocery store. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the space was used for drive-through testing. "Tens of thousands" of local residents were vaccinated against the coronavirus at the site, said Dr. Matthew Stinson, a Jordan Valley executive vice president.
As the Delta variant tore its way through southwest Missouri over the summer, the building also hosted monoclonal antibody infusion clinics that helped keep many COVID-positive individuals from needing hospital care.
Dr. Nick Pfannenstiel, a Jordan Valley dentist and executive vice president, took some of the 80 attendees on a tour of the place, showing partially complete infill construction on the surgery center area including operating rooms, recovery rooms, sterile areas and workspaces for nurses and other providers.
Brooks Miller, Jordan Valley CEO, said in a news release, "We are currently at capacity at our current locations, but with the addition of this building, it will give Jordan Valley the ability to expand our current comprehensive services."
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This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Gov. Mike Parson celebrates new Jordan Valley clinic in Springfield