RACINE — Ascension Wisconsin has committed $1 million to help open a new health clinic in Racine, joining a team of community partners behind the mission.
"This project aligns with our mission and it aligns with our purpose," said Bernie Sherry, Ministry Market Executive at Ascension Wisconsin.
The $1 million pledge will be spread over 5 years. It boosts the $350,000 already raised by the Racine Community Health Center which includes contributions from the City of Racine, Racine County, and Gateway Technical College. The combined investments put the clinic on track to open by summer or 2020.
The health center is being built in the basement of Julian Thomas Elementary School.
Once it is complete, it will improve access to a range of health services including primary care, dental, and mental health for everyone whether they can afford to pay or not. Services would be offered on a sliding fee scale.
"People's lack of access to healthcare can create real disparities on people's health outcomes and creates real economic insecure people or always worried about being one serious illness or injury away from financial ruin," said Racine Mayor Cory Mason.
"Health is part of education and a healthy child is a successful child," said Sheb Muhammad, President of the Racine Community Health Center's Board of Directors.
"It's closer, a lot more comfortable in your neighborhood. You're relaxed," said Steve Avila.
Avila grew up near the future health clinic. His daughter attends Julian Thomas Elementary School, and he helps neighbors get to doctor's appointments. Avila also plans on seeking medical care at the new health center.
"I think being here it'll bring some people out. Come in and get that thing fixed, that shoulder, back that's been hurting for so long you know," said Avila.
Maya Jauregui has a child that attends Julian Thomas Elementary too. Sometimes Jauregui finds herself driving the family to Milwaukee to see a doctor. It can be difficult when her car breaks down.
"I could always walk to the school to the clinic it would be much easier," said Jauregui.
Supporters are aiming for a Federally Qualified Health Center designation in the future. The designation would pump federal funds into the clinic, allowing it to serve a broader range of people.