CLARION – “This building represents three main components — it’s a commitment to the future, it’s a commitment to the community and it’s really a commitment to innovation. We are committed to continuing to figure out how healthcare is going to be delivered in this post-pandemic future that we all are going to be entering.”
With these words, Butler Health System Clarion Hospital president Steven Davis described the recently-opened BHS Health and Wellness Center during a media tour last Friday at the facility’s location at Trinity Point in Monroe Township.
Davis added that in an effort to bring more specialized medicine to the area, the main focus of the new facility is community health and wellness.
“You’re going to find out today that really one of the themes behind this building is just that — community,” he said.
Dr. Richard Begg, medical director of cardiovascular services at BHS, also offered insight into the mission of the of the Health and Wellness Center.
“What we’re really doing here is trying to go from a physician-centered model or an institution-centered model to a patient-centered model,” he said. “You either believe in community medicine or you don’t, [and] we believe 120 percent that community medicine is really important.”
The newly renovated building, which was purchased by Butler Health System from the Clarion University Foundation in July 2020 and, after some COVID-related delays, opened its doors in October, houses several medical services under one roof.
“I think you’ll find that our diagnostic center here really represents what we’re trying to do as far as access for our community in a convenient way,” Davis said. “What that means is you can come into this facility and get virtually just about any outpatient diagnostic service that you can think about.”
“I don’t know of another building like this conceptionally that exists in the region,” Begg agreed. “This is an exciting dream for a lot of people in medicine [who are] going to be partners with people to help with their health from prevention to treatment and other lifestyle changes.”
Davis said that BHS officials worked hard so that the state-of-the-art facility would not be “just the next cookie-cutter medical office building.” He said that BHS president and CEO Ken DeFurio, along with the leadership team, wanted this to be more than just additional space for providers.
“We wanted this space to have the infrastructure and IT infrastructure for all of the state-of-the-art services, particularly around tele-health capabilities, for now and into the future,” he said.
While not new to BHS, Deb Sinz, BHS outreach marketing coordinator, pointed out that cardiac rehab is new to the Clarion area and is now being offered at the Health and Wellness Center.
“We have a comprehensive heart program [that] compliments the total wellness,” she said. “Again, it adds the wellness piece to the fixing piece.”
The cardiac services provided onsite include cardiology, electrophysiology, cardiothoracic surgery consults and a cardiac rehabilitation gym. Patients can also access the BHS Women’s Care Associates and the Fran M. Shope Women’s Imaging Center, which offers women’s ultrasound and 3D mammography, and an outpatient lab all in one location.
The three-story building also houses BHS Family Healthcare of Clarion and the Family Medicine Residency Clinic. This is a service where residents and seasoned physicians, and specialty experts treat patients and guide them in healthy lifestyle management.
The facility is also home to “To Your Health Cafe,” which is open daily to the public from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., as well as a large conference room.
“We will continue to have lifestyle medicine classes, classes about healthy eating, classes about heart-healthy diet [and] classes about what we can do to help with mental health issues,” Davis said. “The nice thing about this space is it’s set up to be able to do this virtually as well.”
Begg said that the facility is not about coming in to “listen to a lecture or two,” but about access.
“This facility needs to be a place where people come, they feel comfortable, they participate in some of the educational things, they get some of their testing done, they do some of their rehab or physical therapy and lastly, but not least, they see their physician,” he said.
The facility also provides oversized patient rooms furnished with a loveseat and other amenities designed to create a more comfortable, relaxed atmosphere where patients can bring family members along with them.
“Folks are going to come here to see multiple providers, [and] we don’t want them to be moving to the providers,” Davis said. “We want to bring the providers to them.”
He also pointed out that the rooms are equipped to accommodate tele-health.
“We’re doing a lot of tele-health here,” he said.
Dr. Anie Perard, head of BHS Women’s Care Associates, provided information about OB/delivery services since the unit was closed at Clarion Hospital.
“We continue to do full-service here including all of their obstetric care, all of their appointments, all their ultrasounds, all of their visits,” she said. “The only thing that’s done differently is that when it’s time to have their baby, instead of driving to Clarion Hospital, they drive to Butler Hospital.”
The second floor of the new facility is dedicated to BHS Family Healthcare of Clarion and the Family Medicine Residency Clinic, which has been in operation for 30 years.
“We have no less than 12 providers within the Butler Health System who have come through this program,” Davis said of the residency program. “Our medical education service is an important component of Butler Health System as we continue to train tomorrow’s providers.”
Dr. Joe Leonard, who went through the residency program and was later hired at BHS Family Healthcare of Clarion, and assistant chief resident Dr. Mohammad Obaidullah said that they are pleased to be working in the Butler Health System, especially in the Clarion area.
“You build relationships here in the residency,” Leonard said. “For me, some of my patients I still see now nine years later are the ones I took care of during my residency. That’s really nice.”
According to practice manager Michelle Weaver, the residency program usually rotates four different residents each day who see patients in addition to Leonard, Dr. Robert Luderer and nurse practitioners Cheryl Burkett and Ian Hollobaugh.
“We’re always taking new patients,” she said, noting that same day appointments are available. “We’ll help anyone who wants it.”