The old quonset hut style building whose earliest days were as a roller rink, before becoming the site of a business or two and then a church, was taken over by the locally-based Rum River Health Services nearly two years ago to make it into a medical clinic.
The building sits along the north side of First Street on Princeton’s west side, just east of the Highway 169 overpass.
Since the 25-year-old RRHS took it over, RRHS moved its health services for women and for persons going through chemical dependency and alcohol treatment, to that quonset building. RRHS had been providing the services in the old industrial arts wing of the former Princeton Middle School building.
RRHS relies on a lot of grants and donations to carry out its mission but will make use of insurance and government programs that its patients are eligible for. RRHS has set Oct. 1 as the target date to begin offering primary medical services community-wide in the RRHS clinic, said RRHS Executive Director Jeff Larson last week.
Right now RRHS has to work out the arrangements for government reimbursement for any services it will give under programs like Medicare and medical assistance. It also has to make sure its electronic medical records will jive with the medical records at Fairview. That way Fairview and RRHS can share patient information, Larson explained.
Also look for RRHS to put on a day of sports physicals and teen checkups.
Dental also coming
RRHS is also partnering with Children’s Dental Services to have mobile dental labs for kids and pregnant women, starting in August. Then as early as late next winter, RRHS is planning for its clinic to have dental offices.
“We hope to have our two dental rooms up and running by the first of the year for anyone,” said RRHS Director of Community Health Cindy Naumann. “But a lot of it will be targeted to the uninsured and under-insured.”
So far two dental chairs and other dental equipment have been donated to RRHS for the clinic. “There’s just a huge need for dental care,” Larson said.
Who are the services for?
Larson noted that RRHS’ primary health services are for people with limited resources such as no insurance or limited access to insurance through, for example, a high deductible. RRHS will be providing care and charging on an ability to pay, Larson said, noting that patients can pay through traditional insurance.
At least in the beginning, RRHS will be relying on volunteer professionals from doctors to nurses, technicians and people in the dental field to operate the clinic Larson said, noting that eventually RRHS will be hiring clinic staff as well.
The clinic already has mental health counselors from Lighthouse Child and Family Services, out of Milaca.
While planning for the staff, work is going on in the facility. The RRHS clinic will be expanding from it current three exam rooms to six.
“I think, especially within the last five or six years, as the economy in our region has deteriorated, we have seen a real increase in the number of people struggling financially, and a real increase in the number with no access to insurance,” Larson said. “And we continue our mission to identify and respond to community health needs…”