Health & Wellness

YS works to get clinic back

Maintaining a local medical clinic at the site of the former Wright State Physicians Family Health Center is the best use for the property at the corner of Xenia Avenue and Herman Street, according to Village Planning Assistant Ed Amrhein, who has been working with the university to pursue a new clinic at the site. But in the event that the health center does not materialize, the Village would like the opportunity to assert its zoning authority “in the best interest of the village,” Amrhein said, adding that Wright State leaders have stated their willingess to work toward that goal.

The health center was serving 4,000 individual patients each year from the area when fiscal difficulty last year forced the physicians to divest themselves of an old and costly building. When the clinic relocated to Greene Memorial Hospital in July 2009, the university razed the building on Xenia Avenue, intending to rebuild a newer, more efficient facility. But fundraising for the project proved more difficult than expected, according to Howard Part, dean of the Boonshoft School of Medicine, in an interview. The school is still in need of raising about $1 million to start the project, which Part estimated could cost $2.5 million.

Currently the university’s property is zoned residence B and consists of about four acres subdivided into 22 residential properties, each appraised at about $50,000, according to Amrhein. The use of the property as a health care office is an approved conditional use for that zone, and while other residences as well as another clinic would automatically be allowed there, any other use would need Village Planning Commission approval.

Amrhein and Village Economic Sustainability Coordinator Sarah Wildman have spoken to the university about Village government’s support for a new clinic, said Amrhein, who feels that the need for a clinic that serves not only Yellow Springers but also the rural patients in the immediate area is a significant one.

While operating in Yellow Springs, the Wright State clinic housed five doctors and served 4,000 patients a year. While the village still supports a host of chiropractors, acupuncture therapists and other healthcare providers, currently the only general medical practice in the village is the Community Physicians of Yellow Springs.

The Village advocates for another health care clinic on the university’s property, which could likely also accommodate other uses, such as some residential properties, Amrhein said. But in the event that funds are not available for a new clinic, the Village would like to see the property zoned for a use that is compatible with the surrounding area, which is all residence B, and includes the Friends Care Community campus across Herman Street. Inviting a fast food restaurant there, for instance, smack in between two mature business districts and surrounded by residences probably isn’t making the best use of the land, Amrhein said.

What could make more sense is to use the land for multiple purposes, including some residential and some auxiliary offices connected to the Friends campus, Amrhein said. Wildman and Amrhein are also gauging the desire from other medical centers in the region to have a satellite office in Yellow Springs, Amrhein said. There are federal grants available for small clinics in rural areas, too, which a clinic here could qualify for, he said.

“It’s a brain storming time for us, and what we’re looking to do is come up with the next best highest use [for the property] while trying to get some sort of health center back,” he said. “We realized that we didn’t just want to sit back and deal with whatever fell into our lap. We’re being more proactive.”

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