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The Community's Newest Health Facility

Carolyn Braunschwyler discusses the CHDC mission while giving a tour.

Carolyn Braunschwyler discusses the CHDC mission while giving a tour.

Carolyn Brunschwyler glanced around the colorful and new, but relatively modest, confines of the Community Health and Dental Care Clinic, and declared it to be the look of the future. She wasn’t bragging, just acknowledging what research already shows.

Federal studies on how local communities can more efficiently provide health care to the public indicate that in coming years state-of-the-art medical facilities “surprisingly, are going to look a lot like we do,” said Brunschwyler, the clinic’s director of development.

Community Health and Dental Care (CHDC), 11 Robinson St., Pottstown PA, hosted an open house Saturday (Oct. 25, 2008) in the building it shares with Creative Health Services. The clinic, supervised by Executive Director Kathleen Wierz, is now ready to provide primary medical and dental care – including pediatric and family medical services – to residents of western Montgomery, northern Chester, and eastern Berks counties. Lower Pottsgrove Township is part of its service area.

Visitors arrive at Saturday's open house at the new health care clinic.

Visitors arrive for Saturday's open house at the new clinic.

Actually, CHDC is thinking much more broadly. Its promotional literature says it hopes to play a role in helping to reduce dental disease, fight obesity, lower incidences of hypertenion and diabetes, and generally tackle a long list of society’s medical problems. It has its eye, in particular, on what Brunschwyler said is an under-served population: those who lack enough health insurance, or aren’t insured at all.

To accommodate patients’ many needs, CHDC boasts a staff of physicians, certified nurse-practitioners, case managers, dentists and dental hygenists. Its medical and dental suites are fully equipped and painted in muted tones. It even has an on-site laboratory and two triage rooms.

Entrance to the clinic's medical suites.

Entrance to the clinic's medical suites.

All of which makes some private practice physicians and dentists, and a hospital administrator or two, nervous. The clinic potentially represents a new form of competition for them, because its services will not be limited exclusively to the needy. Instead patients and their insurers, if any, pay for services on a series of sliding scales. Brunschwyler believes CHDC will be far more complimentary to, than competitive with, existing providers.

The clinic also has been endorsed, with substantial financial funding, from the Pottstown Area Health And Wellness Foundation. Foundation money is a reinvestment in community health care from proceeds of the sale several years ago of Pottstown Memorial Medical Center to Tennessee-based Community Health Systems Inc.

As the clinic introduces itself to its market, some minor kinks remain. The Robinson Street location is big enough that not everyone on staff yet knows where certain materials are stored. Then there’s the matter of a website. Turns out, Brunschwyler said, “getting it up is a lot more complicated” than outfitting the clinic itself. It will be available, she promised, at http://www.ch-dc.org in coming weeks.

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