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NorthShore PAID ADVERTISEMENT building new flagship health center in Portage N orthShore Health Centers started with a teen clinic at Portage High School and has grown to seven sites in five cities in Lake and Porter Counties, and it is taking one more giant leap forward. $66,000 that first year and had 700 patient visits for the whole year. NorthShore now has a budget of $33 million covering all seven sites and gets about 160,000 visits by about 60,000 patients each year, including 800 a month at the high school. On Sept. 10, NorthShore broke ground on a 51,000-square-foot facility in Portage that will become NorthShore’s new administrative offices and replace a smaller clinic operating on Scottsdale Street. The new clinic is on a 10-acre site at Willowcreek Road and Sterling Creek Road, just south of the Portage Walmart. That first clinic had one exam room and two classrooms, which were leased to the school district. The school district now owns the facility and leases it back to NorthShore. High school students from all over Porter County are trained and receive experience as dental assistants and nursing assistants at the clinic so, when they graduate, they are certified to be employed in those jobs. “It’s taken us 21 years to get the kind of building we really needed in Portage,” NorthShore CEO Jan Wilson said. “We’ve grown so much, we’ve maxed out our space, and we need to have the ability to see more people.” The new clinic is expected to open at the end of 2019 with 54 medical exam rooms: 20 family practice exam rooms, 5 urgent care rooms, 9 pediatric exam rooms, 14 obstetric exam rooms and 6 rooms for the imaging department – mammography, biopsy, ultrasound, bone density and X-ray. The existing clinic has 28 exam rooms. “Our motto is everybody deserves quality health care,” Wilson said. “We serve everyone whether they have insurance or not. There are still a lot of uninsured people who would have nowhere to go if not for us.” Although certified for state and federal funding, which helped get the clinic started, Wilson said those funds make up less than 10 percent of NorthShore’s total budget now. “We have to run our business like everybody else, but we can afford to see the Medicare and Medicaid patients better than most of the In addition, the new facility will have doctors can because Medicare and eight dental exam rooms and four Medicaid pay them less.” vision exam rooms and house other After opening the teen clinic, departments, such as a pharmacy, NorthShore expanded to the current laboratory services, urgent care and medical and dental care site with behavioral health. The administrative urgent care on Scottsdale in 2004 and offices will include a boardroom, and added medical and dental facilities in it will have one or two specialty suites Lake Station in 2008, followed shortly that will be leased to outside medical after by similar facilities in Merrillville providers. and in Hammond. Two years ago, it The teen clinic at the high school opened in Chesterton. It operates that started it all in 1997 will remain high school clinics in Merrillville open. It operated on a budget of and Lake Station in addition to Portage, and Wilson said it would try to accommodate other interested schools. The opening of the new clinic on Willowcreek will make it easier for people to see a doctor. Wilson said people who are ill or in pain can get immediate appointments, but those not needing immediate care could take a bit longer. She said the new clinic will have classes to train people to manage their diabetes and pregnancies. Mammography is available only at the Hammond and Lake Station sites. “We try to add the services we’ve learned patients need. Often people can’t afford to go to a hospital for an X-ray or a medical test, and we try to help them. They have to be a NorthShore patient, but it’s a real good place to go if they have no other option, including no insurance.” When the new clinic opens, the 80 people working at the Scottsdale facility will move to the site, and NorthShore expects to add another 30 people immediately. Wilson said she expects the new clinic to employ 190 when it is totally staffed within three years. NorthShore will decide later what to do with the existing clinic. “The new site will be the flagship,” Wilson said. “We started in Portage, and that was probably one of the smaller sites, and we want to have a really nice one there.” For more information or to schedule your appointment, please call NorthShore at 219-841-5070 or visit www.northshorehealth.org. We take insured and uninsured patients in lake and Porter County.