The only federally qualified health care center in Sussex County is about to get a whole lot bigger.
La Red Health Center will officially open a new $4.7-million ambulatory health center in Georgetown on April 2.
To help promote the new facility, La Red hosted a March 21 mixer attended by members of the nine chambers of commerce in Sussex County.
“I loved it,” said Trina Joyner, president of the Sussex County Association of Realtors. “It’s definitely something that could help revive the Georgetown area and it will provide a huge service to the community.”
The new 25,000-square-foot facility, which will replace La Red’s current leased offices on West Market Street in Georgetown, features five wings dedicated to family practice, oral health, pre-natal, behavioral health and administration.
The family health wing includes 22 exam rooms, up from 12 at the current facility, while the dental wing features eight stations that will replace La Red’s mobile oral health van.
“There is really a tremendous need in Sussex County for oral health services,” said Kevin Loftus, La Red’s director of development. “Eighty percent of our patients have never seen a dentist before.”
The prenatal wing has 10 exam rooms, seven more than the current location, as well as a room for helping mom’s with breastfeeding and birth preparation.
The new facility also includes rooms for six outreach workers, private labs, a children’s playroom, a conference room, administrative offices, a lunchroom, a staff locker room, space for classrooms and separate waiting areas for sick and well patients.
La Red currently has 50 full-time and five part-time staff members, in addition to its 11 available physicians.
“The leased spaces in our current facility are equal to about one-third of this space,” La Red Chief Executive Officer Brian S. Olson said. “There, we really work elbow to elbow so moving to a place like this is really exciting to us.”
La Red, which is Spanish for “the network,” began in 2001 as a health care referral service with a focus on the Hispanic community and indigent patients. However, agency officials stressed last week that the new health care facility will be aimed at serving the entire community.
“Our only criteria is that patients be residents of Sussex County,” Loftus said.
Board member Dave Pederson said the health care center is able to work with patients who have insurance, as well as those who do not.
“We use a fee sliding scale for patients who pay in cash,” he said. “We also accept private insurance, Medicare/Medicaid and employer plans.”
La Red serves about 6,500 patients a year and saw a 31-percent increase in patient visits between 2010 and 2011, Olson said.
Karen Duffield, the executive director of the Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, said she was struck by how much affordable health care services are needed in the area.
Page 2 of 2 - “I think Sussex County is so lucky to have La Red filling that need with such a tremendous facility,” she said. “I’m just overwhelmed by the quality of the new building and the extent of the services that will be provided here.”
John T. Moore, the director of the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce and the general manager of Peninsula Dental, said he was equally impressed by the size of the facility and scope of the services.
“It’s awesome and clearly filling a real need in the community,” he said. “Hopefully, the presence of [a] facility like this will help divert people who are uninsured or under insured from using the hospital emergency room for primary care or when they have scrapes and sniffles.”
Crystal Timmons, a community relations associate with the United Way of Delaware, said she was excited to see the new facility’s extended hours of operation.
“The availability of access that provides means members of the working community and families with child care limitations will be more likely to receive care,” she said. “That and the fact that this facility is right in the middle of the county are wonderful. This is going to be so great for the whole community.”
A ribbon cutting with state, county and local officials is planned for April 23.