Community health center getting new home

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — The nonprofit Martin Luther King Health Center is buying a home of its own.

The organization, which provides care for uninsured people, plans to close on the purchase of a former doctor’s office on Olive Street from Christus Health Shreveport-Bossier City in January.

A $300,000 renovation will short shortly after and the clinic should move into the new building by Aug. 1, health center director Janet Mentesane told The Times (http://bit.ly/18Old7G).

“We started in Sister Margaret’s soup kitchen,” said clinic founder Dr. Robert Jackson, referring to Sister Margaret McCaffrey’s Christian Service ministries in Shreveport’s Allendale neighborhood.

Jackson focused on treating chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure in people without insurance. He said he wanted to prevented life-threatening illnesses such as the strokes he saw as a resident at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport.

The clinic moved to its own cinder-block building but didn’t own the land.

As patient numbers grew, the center outgrew the building. In 2010, operations moved to a larger, leased building on Margaret Place.

The health center will continue seeing patients at the Margaret Street location until the new building is ready, Mentesane said.

“We wanted to make sure we stayed in this same area. We’re still close to the nursing school. They’re a big part of our program,” Mentesane said. “We wanted to make sure a medical facility remains in this neighborhood.”

The clinic’s core mission remains the same: helping people without insurance control chronic illnesses to avoid complications, emergency room visits and time away from work.

However, the organization has expanded services in recent years to offer a women’s wellness clinic and diabetes prevention programs.

The clinic will continue adding services when funding, volunteers and partner agencies are available.

“We’re starting a clinic with the Philadelphia Center. We also will start a geriatric clinic in next year and expand the diabetes prevention program,” Mentesane said.

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Information from: The Times, http://www.shreveporttimes.com

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