Health of Walker's Point Community to Improve with New Clinic

Access to quality health care is essential to helping people live well. In Milwaukees Walkers Point neighborhood, a transformation is taking place that will substantially improve access for patients in critical need.

The vacant lot at 538 S. 2nd St (northeast corner of 2nd at Bruce Street) will soon be redeveloped into a centerpiece for this community on Milwaukee's near south side. Aurora Health Care is leasing space to create a new home for The Healing Collective, composed of Aurora Walkers Point Community Clinic, The Healing Center of Aurora Sinai Medical Center, and CORE/El Centro. Only blocks away from the new Aurora administrative office, the new clinic will provide access to health care for uninsured patients and those who are underserved by the existing health care network on Milwaukees near south side.

By moving to a larger facility, Aurora will increase access for those patients with the greatest need and, in many cases, the greatest difficulty in finding a medical home. For example, the expansion of Aurora Walkers Point Community Clinic will allow caregivers to provide services to 1,000 new patients without insurance.

This continues our long-term investment in the Walkers Point neighborhood, said Dennis Potts, vice president of facilities planning. Weve been serving the community for almost 20 years, and we are committed to staying here. In December, we relocated our administrative offices to the same neighborhood. We are proud to contribute to the revitalizing and re-energizing of this community and to caring for those most in need.

The Healing Collective serves vital community needs

The Healing Collective, currently located at 611 W. National Ave., was created in 2003 to integrate health and wellness services for uninsured and underserved populations living in Milwaukee. The Collective is a collaboration of two health organizations offering three programs, each with a different expertise and focus, all at one convenient location.

Its members include: Aurora Walkers Point Community Clinic, a free clinic for uninsured or underinsured, low income and homeless established in 1992; The Healing Center, an innovative advocacy, support and counseling center for survivors of sexual assault; and CORE/El Centro, a natural healing center that provides alternative healing therapies.

Whats happening in the Healing Collective is much more than medical care, explains Sally Turner, director of patient experience at Aurora Sinai Medical Center. It is somewhere that makes people whole again on every level. Its a place where people come together in a true sense of community.

Expanded space for expanded services

The Aurora Walkers Point Community Clinic already treats over 3,200 patients annually and provides social services to an additional 500 people. The Healing Center supports over 800 clients per year.

In our current space, we have eight exam rooms, said Steve Ohly, manager of Aurora Walkers Point Community Clinic. When we move, well have 12 exam rooms. Were also getting ready to hire another nurse practitioner who will be able to see another 1,000 patients per year or 4,000 patient visits.

The new clinic will increase the Healing Collectives current square footage by almost 40%, which will increase the total number of individuals served, reduce wait-listing, and enhance program hours with additional evening and weekend availability.

Our patients dont often get a place where they can receive good care in a place that is comfortable and nurturing, says Carolyn McCarthy, nurse practitioner at Aurora Walkers Point Community Clinic. This new clinic will be a safe and comfortable place of healing, a place you can be heard, and a place you can rely on.

Moving to this new building will also provide additional individual and group counseling rooms, art therapy space, kitchen facilities and a larger living room for the Healing Center. CORE/El Centro will be able to expand fitness programming space, develop dedicated workshop space and add natural healing therapy rooms.

In addition, the new space will allow for the development of new health programming including, sustainable agriculture classes that will engage the community in the maintenance of a rooftop garden, food and nutrition classes to educate families in a hands-on environment and allow space for environmental education classes to help community members learn about the environment, including how to reduce our carbon footprint.

Because its going to be a completely green building, our clients are not only going to receive healing services from us, but theyre going to learn how to give back to the community and the environment, says Mary Ann Clesceri, manager of the Healing Center. It will be an education in a completely different way.

Meeting the Living Building Challenge

The new building was designed to meet the Living Building Challenge using building science that models the built environment on patterns found in nature and will:

  • Adapt specifically to site and climate
  • Harvest all water and energy needs on site
  • Operate pollution-free and generate no wastes that arent useful for some other process in the building or immediate environment
  • Promote the health and well-being of all inhabitants
  • Integrate systems that maximize efficiency and comfort
  • Improve the health and diversity of the local ecosystem rather than degrade it

The environmental features of the new clinic fit well with our values, said Dennis Potts. Responsibly managing our resources includes being good stewards of our environment. Well be reusing interior elements from other sites -- plumbing, cabinetry, doors, and other fixtures -- will find a new home here. This not only reduces all around costs, but keeps these materials out of landfills.

The Healing Collective needs you

Thanks to generous donations, the talent of hundreds of volunteers, and collaboration with community partners, we are able to provide thousands of people with much-needed health care every year.

This initiative will help the Aurora Walkers Point Community Clinic and The Healing Center to expand their services in neighborhoods where the need exceeds available resources, said Jean Johnson, vice president of philanthropy for the Aurora Health Care Foundation. In a time of shrinking reimbursements and a challenging economic environment, the kindness and generosity of donors is more important than ever as we look at delivering more essential services and programs to the community.

You can support the Healing Collective in many ways:

  • Make an financial contribution online through the Aurora Health Care Foundation
  • Give the gift of time by volunteering your services to those in need.
  • Donate supplies, materials or medical equipment

To learn more about current volunteer or donation opportunities, call:

The Healing Center 414-671-4325
Aurora Walkers Point Community Clinic 414-384-1400

As we move from ground-breaking to grand opening, watch for an ongoing series of stories on the inspiring caregivers, volunteers, patients and services of the Healing Collective.