Good Neighbor House to grow services for uninsured with expansion

A local nonprofit that serves many uninsured people in Dayton with healthcare needs is expanding its footprint and expects to serve twice as many when the project is completed

Good Neighbor House has outgrown its home and plans to renovate and expand its Dayton facility to reduce wait times for medical and dental patients and serve many new people.

The faith-based nonprofit has seen demand for its services intensify after another local charitable clinic closed and the pandemic caused many residents to lose their jobs or insurance.

Good Neighbor House plans to invest more than $1.2 million to add a new medical wing that will help increase access to care, said Michelle Collier, chief operating officer of Good Neighbor House.

“Our main focus is on the working poor ― the ones who are falling through the cracks,” Collier said.

Good Neighbor House at 627 E. First St. in the Webster Station neighborhood operates a dental clinic, medical clinic, food pantry and other programs, like food and eye care.

Last year, Good Neighbor House served more than 3,600 clients and patients who made about 33,750 visits, and its food pantry also serves more than 14,000 people annually.

The dental clinic serves patients in Ohio’s Medicaid and managed care plans as well as uninsured residents who self pay on a sliding-fee scale, which typically reduces service costs by between 10% to 50%, the organization said.

“Our prices align with Medicaid prices, so we truly have the lowest prices we can give,” Collier said.

Good Neighbor House’s medical clinic serves uninsured residents who are asked to pay a $35 co-pay donation, but the clinic turns no one away, including homeless community members, Collier said.

Good Neighbor House estimates that its clinics provided about $8 million worth of health care services last year, even though its operating budget was one-tenth that cost ($800,000).

The organization uses volunteers and relies on donated goods and services, though its medical clinic has three part-time employees.

The dental clinic has some volunteers, including one dentist, but it also contracts with two other dentists and employs other staff, including a hygienist and dental assistants.

Good Neighbor House’s current facility is nearly 12,000 square feet, and the expansion will add 2,600 square feet of new space, Collier said. The project breaks ground in mid-August.

Good Neighbor House has about 950 dental patients and about 400 medical patients, Collier said, and the expansion should allow the organization to increase dental services by 33% to 44%.

The medical clinic will triple in size, growing to six exam rooms from two, and the addition also will offer a wellness and physical therapy room.

Thousands of local residents lost access to family medicine, prescription, behavioral health and physical therapy services when Reach Out of Montgomery County closed down, officials said.

Reach Out, which was located near Miami Valley Hospital, was one of the largest free clinics in the state and was one of only a few licensed charitable pharmacies in the state.

The free clinic, which had more than 2,900 clinic visits in 2017, suspended its clinic hours in late summer of 2019, citing funding woes.

But Good Neighbor House is serving some of that group’s former patients and wants to help more. The issue right now is capacity.

The dental clinic has a long waiting list, and patients currently have to wait more than four months for an appointment.

Presently, medical clinic appointments are booked for weeks out.

But the new medical clinic wing will allow Good Neighbor House to add two chairs in the dental clinic, as well as a new lab and a sterilization space.

Good Neighbor House about a decade ago conducted a survey of the community that determined dental services were the largest unmet local health care needs, said Jim Vangrov, a member of Good Neighbor House’s board of directors.

The organization moved into the East First Street property in spring 2013, relocating from a building on the 800 block of South Patterson Boulevard. The new faicility helped the nonprofit shift its focus to dental care, Vangrov said.

“We renovated this (facility) extensively when we bought it and moved in,” he said. “But we’re going to be improving it even more because we know there’s going to be a higher volume and it’s much more complicated to keep the patient populations separate between dental and medical.”

Good Neighbor House also operates a pharmacy, and the expansion project will create a new and larger dispensary space. The food pantry space also will be renovated.

Donors have committed $922,000 to the project, but fundraising efforts continue.

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