By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — InterCare Community Health Network will have another freestanding medical clinic built alongside its Benton Township location in 2017.
Township trustees approved site plans for a women’s health center during Tuesday’s board meeting, which will be built next to Intercare’s Benton Harbor Health Center at 800 M-139.
Tracy Ezell, senior architect and project manager with Byce & Associates, said the proposed building would be directly north of the existing 800 M-139 clinic. The township assigned an address of 796 M-139 to the future building.
The network received notification this year it was a recipient of a $1 million federal grant from the Affordable Care Act’s Community Health Center Fund. This led to plans for the women’s health clinic.
The 1.5-acre property will make way for a 9,500-square-foot women’s health clinic, which InterCare will use for prenatal care and other services.
Ezell told trustees it was a long-term goal to use the land north of the clinic.
“Shortly after the first clinic was built, Lakeland Health transferred most of their women’s health care for prenatal care to the InterCare organization,” Ezell said Tuesday. “Those services are currently housed in the original clinic, which was built for overall general health care. That function will be removed from the original InterCare facility and moved next door.”
The proposed health center would be next to the original InterCare clinic, but would not be physically connected.
According to meeting minutes from the township’s planning commission, InterCare officials anticipate moving most of the staff from the existing clinic to the new building. A few additional employees may be needed.
The revised site plan shows 45 new parking spaces with some of the overflow parking to be provided by the InterCare clinic to the south.
“It’s going to be a shared entry drive,” Ezell said. “When the original project was completed, this drive was planned to service any future project. There are provisions for overflow parking, which would be handled by the main site. It’s a campus plan of sorts.”
A number of patients will be using public transportation, also reducing the need for additional spaces. The site proposes to provide an area for stormwater management – the northeast part of the parcel – under Berrien County Drain Commission review and permits.
Ezell said the extra space in the existing clinic, which was built in 2011, will allow them to systematically renovate space as needed of the new model of health care and plan for growth at the main clinic.
“I’d like to thank you for your proactive runoff plans that you have and integrated into your parking areas,” said Treasurer Debbie Boothby at Tuesday’s meeting. “That has been noticed and mentioned throughout the community.”
InterCare Community Health Network announced plans in 2009 to move its Benton Harbor clinics from the former Mercy Center to a consolidated clinic to be built a few blocks away at the corner of M-139 and Empire Avenue.
InterCare’s West Michigan network, based Bangor, serves more than 50,000 low-income patients each year.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 23, 2016)