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Allen Community Health Center aims to service underserved communities

October 18, 2022
The Allen Community Health Center located at 1601 E Kalamazoo St in Lansing on Oct. 14, 2022.
The Allen Community Health Center located at 1601 E Kalamazoo St in Lansing on Oct. 14, 2022. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

The Ingham County Health Department opened the new Allen Community Health Center to the public on Oct. 10 in a bid to add much-needed healthcare services to Lansing's east side.

As a federally qualified health center, or FQHC, the center looks to ensure health equity by serving medically underserved populations and provides care regardless of insured status or ability to pay, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said.

“A big part of health equity is making sure that there are no barriers to ... care for anybody,” Vail said.

A 2020 ICHD annual report found that of the 19,960 total patients seen by Ingham community health centers, 2,103 of them were homeless. The new community health center aims to serve, in part, this underprivileged group, said Kris Drake, Executive Director for Ingham Community Health Centers.

“We're looking to close that gap and serve as a medical home for individuals who may not have had the means to access health care yesteryear,” Drake said.

The health center is placed within the already existing Allen Neighborhood Center, a growing hub for locals to engage in recreational activity. It features the Allen Farmers Market, a greenhouse and programs for youth and seniors.

Alongside the multi-use facility, there is mixed-income housing that aims to make community living accessible and affordable. Now that a health clinic is housed in the facility as well, the motto of “good health is contagious” can take root, according to the center's website.

“That’s actually exactly what people inside population health theory say … they’ll talk about trying to create an epidemic of good health,” Sean Valles, Director of the Michigan State University Center for Bioethics and Social Justice said.

That epidemic of good health stems from primary care physicians – the first resource that individuals turn to when they are facing medical issues. This push to streamline the care-receiving process comes from an initiative to provide primary care physicians to those that would otherwise go to the emergency room or urgent care.

Valles encourages communities to develop networks to tie together community services with cultural life, including nutritious, affordable food and healthcare. By providing many necessary resources in one location, there can be a shift in the culture to prioritize one’s personal health without having to leave their community.


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