Church Health Services in Beaver Dam changes its model

April 24, 2018

Church Health Services in Beaver Dam has been able to shift its focus to urgent care as its dental and mental health services grow.

Church Health is a faith-based organization located at 115 N. Center St. Its next walk-in medical clinic will be on Thursday from 8-10 a.m.

The nonprofit has been offering walk-in clinics about twice a month for low-income patients without insurance as part of a pilot program that is geared toward urgent care issues, like a persistent cough, ear pain or a sore throat.

That’s a change from when Church Health had hundreds of patients and offered around 10 clinics a month, including for chronic health issues like diabetes and high blood pressure.

The patient population dwindled over the years as more people became insured due to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to have insurance and Wisconsin’s expansion of BadgerCare. Church Health also helped a remaining population of about 50 patients work with other clinics in the area for chronic issues.

“The medical part of things completely shrunk. We went from having clinics that were full to having clinics that often times were only a couple people, and maybe they didn’t come, so we’d cancel them,” said volunteer doctor Brad Allen. “We were redefining who are we, what is the need there, and how can we again shift to address that.”

At the same time, the nonprofit has expanded its services for dental and mental health with a growing number of patients. Recently, Church Health started offering dental services for children.

The tax reform bill that the Republican Party passed last year also removed the requirement that people have insurance from the Affordable Care Act, which will leave more people uninsured. The mandate remains in effect for 2018.

Allen said Church Health would be prepared for a change, especially with a pool of doctors and nurses still connected.

“It’s never stable. Who knows what’s going to happen next?” he said. “If anything changes, if the politics change, I think there’s a willingness to rise to that.

“If there are a lot of new folks without insurance, we could always shift how we do things.”

To be eligible for medical services, a patient must not have health insurance, must live in Dodge County or a surrounding area, be between the ages of 18 and 64, must have applied for BadgerCare or the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, and meet certain income requirements.

“We’re just out there if you need help,” parish nurse Carol Wehland said.