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Buchanan County Health Center and UnityPoint to move into HealthFirst building

OELWEIN, Iowa (KWWL) – The former HealthFirst Medical Park building on the south side of Oelwein will be getting a new resident.

Buchanan County Health Center in Independence has partnered with UnityPoint Health to open up BCHC Family Medicine– Oelwein in the building.

HealthFirst closed back in June, less than a year after being open. The group cited decreasing reimbursements and rising costs as the reason for the closure. At the time, there were three health clinics in Oelwein.

UnityPoint already has a clinic in downtown Oelwein, but it’s too small and parking is limited.

The Buchanan County Health Center already has a standing relationship with UnityPoint, so administrators saw an opportunity to bring a bigger clinic to the town and expand BCHC’s footprint into Fayette County.

“The bulk of what we’re trying to accomplish is expand primary care services in that community, which is very much needed,” said Steve Slessor, CEO of BCHC.

“UnityPoint Health values this partnership with Buchanan County Health Center and, together, we are proud to continue providing quality health care services in Oelwein and the surrounding community,” said Sarah Brown, UnityPoint Clinic Regional Vice Presdient.

The partnership allows them to bring more specialists to town and offer services like X-ray and 3D mammography. In rural communities like Oelwein, the distance to a hospital providing specialty services can be prohibitive as Waterloo is 45 minutes away.

“Patients will see a specialist or not see a specialist based upon travel distance,” Slessor said, “They’ll have a colonoscopy or not because of travel distance.”

MercyOne now operates the hospital and other primary care clinic in town, offering some of the same services. Slessor said they hope to work together instead of directly compete with MercyOne.

“Our goal is to find as many opportunities for collaboration with the local hospital there as possbile, understanding that there are definitely things we are competing in that arena, as well. It should make both organizations better,” said Slessor.

The clinic will open September 23 and the downtown UnityPoint Clinic will close. Patients will not have to do anything different as it is just changing name and location. Two of the providers from HealthFirst will also be joining the team following the move.

This is the second primary care venture for BCHC and UnityPoint. They are in the process of building a clinic in Jesup, which has a projected completion of January.

Oelwein Family Pharmacy will open a second location in the clinic as well.

Read the full release here.

Collin Dorsey

Weekend Anchor

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