CHI Memorial closing Westside clinic

The Memorial Westside Clinic will shut down at the end of July.

CHI Memorial will close its Westside Health Center by Aug. 1 because of a decline in patient use of the four-day-a-week primary care facility since the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, provided patients insurance coverage and other local options.

The clinic in the former James A. Henry Elementary School on Grove Street will close at the end of the month and Memorial will consolidate its community health operations at its Hixson facility, located in the Highland Plaza shopping center at Hixson Pike and Ashland Terrace.

"As we have expanded the capabilities of our CHI Memorial Community Health Hixson facility - laboratory, X-ray, pharmacy, and social workers - we have seen a diminished demand for the CHI Memorial Community Health Westside facility," CHI Memorial President Larry Schumacher said in a memo to physicians and the community this week. "We have also seen the positive effect of the Affordable Care Act, in that many individuals who previously came to Westside for care due to lack of health insurance, are now covered by insurance and able to establish with a primary care physician."

Memorial started its community health program on the North Shore in 1996 and moved to the Westside in 2003 to provide community health services to residents of College Hill Courts, the city's larrgest and oldest public housing site. The hospital-sponsored clinic leased part of the old James A. Henry Elementary school for the Westside health center, which is funded from Memorial's Community Benefit budget dedicated to provide access to health care for the poor and uninsured.

Schumacher said the hospital "is working toward a plan to expand near care and home visits to the residents at Gateway Towers, and hope to make an announcement in the coming days."

The Memorial health centers are managed by a team of nurse practitioners through a collaborative agreement with a primary care physicians and provide an array of preventive, education, screening and primary care services.

Lisa McCluskey, marketing vice president for Memorial, said the nurse practitioners and other staff now employed at the Westside facility will be absorbed at other CHI medical facilities.

"We are not anticipating job losses," McCluskey said. "The remaining Westside patients will be well supported with transportation assistance throughout the transition. And our staff is in contact with those patients."

The clinic closing comes after a number of retailers, including Dollar General, have also shut down in the Grove Street retail center aross the street from the James A. Henry school.

The Westside Shop, which was briefly shut down this spring on orders of the Hamilton County District Attorney, is the only operating business now.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfree or at 423-757-6340.