May 4—TUPELO — With the stroke of a hammer, a new chapter in the 30-year history of Antone Tannehill Good Samaritan Health Services has begun.
Workers at the longtime free clinic began demolishing its building, located at 420 Magazine Street in Tupelo, on Wednesday morning. The clinic also announced a fundraising campaign to raise funds for a new building, which is expected to be constructed at the clinic’s current location.
Planning for the demolition began a year ago, director Amy Fagan told a small crowd at the short ceremony. The clinic provides uninsured workers who live and work in Lee County with free medical, dental, and pharmaceutical care.
How can I help?
Build campaign contributions can be made to CREATE at createfoundation.com by selecting Antone Tannehill Good Samaritan Health Services from the fund drop-down menu, or by calling (662) 844-8989. Donations can be mailed to CREATE, PO Box 1053, Tupelo, MS 38802. For more information about the services offered by the clinic or the building campaign, please call (662) 844-3733.
The clinic has remained unchanged since it opened in November 1992. This has proven to be a challenge to its goal of increasing patient numbers and improving services, Fagan said.
“All of these things, we realized, are really holding us back from moving forward,” Fagan said.
Only about half of the clinic’s 5,000 square feet are currently in use, the organization said in a press release, almost entirely due to the condition of the building. Several exam rooms and restrooms are not usable, and much of the wiring is old and cannot be updated.
M&N Construction will take care of the construction of the new building, which is being emptied. Only the exterior of the building will remain; everything inside will be completely changed.
The project will last six months. M&N Construction will begin next week with interior demolition, said M&N Construction owner and contractor Nic Nichols.
Planned improvements include the addition of a drive-thru pharmacy and kitchenette where patients can learn life skills, new space for volunteer offices, bringing everything under the Americans with Disabilities Act into compliance ( ADA) and updating the clinic’s technology.
The estimated cost of the new facility is $650,000, nearly all of which will need to be raised by the nonprofit clinic. To do this, the clinic has launched a fundraising campaign through the CREATE Foundation and is in the process of applying for grants.
Until the new clinic is built, Good Samaritan Health Services partners with North Mississippi Health Services to treat patients from the old Healthworks building at 219 S. Industrial Road in Tupelo.
While in its temporary location, the clinic plans to launch some enhanced services, with the intention of implementing them immediately in the new location. One step was to expand the mission statement to include those who work in Lee County, rather than just residents.
“We hope to spend time doing outreach in the community and letting people know about our services and the fact that we will be able to take on more patients once we return,” Fagan said.
Historically, the clinic has been well supported by the community, Fagan said. Since its inception, it has sought to help the working poor, who often fall short because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance. For this reason, many clinic patients live with comorbidities.
The clinic serves over 100 chronic patients for routine care and provides care for more acute situations, such as the flu, or even major surgery.
“Most of these people work two or three jobs to support their families, so the last thing they do is take care of themselves,” Fagan said. “We want them to stay well, healthy and working because if they’re healthy they’re taking care of their own families and they’re contributing to our local economy.”
Good Samaritan Health Services serves clients between the ages of 18 and 64. Care is mainly provided by volunteer doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, although the clinic has paid staff.
The clinic hopes to reopen by the end of October, in time for its official 30th anniversary on November 2.