New Clinic in Fifth Ward

A new federally qualified health center is opening in the Fifth Ward. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, the full-service clinic is moving into the neighborhood that's been without a local health facility for nearly a year.

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The City of Houston has long operated the Lyons Avenue Health Center at the corner of Lyons and Lockwood. But that health center only offers immunizations and preventive care services like TB and STD screenings. Now a federal grant is allowing Legacy Community Health Services to open a full-service clinic in cooperation with the city's efforts. Legacy Executive Director Katy Caldwell says this is the first Federally Qualified Health Center in the Fifth Ward.

"In this neighborhood there are a lot of people who do not have health insurance. And the federal government designates areas and provides grants, grant-funding, for agencies such as ours to go in and provide those medical services."

The clinic will offer a full range of services from well-woman exams to laboratory services and mental health services. Caldwell says people will pay based on income levels.

"We're offering these services on a sliding scale fee basis, meaning we offer the services based on your ability to pay for the services. If you have a low income, your fees can be very, very low. In some cases it can go down all the way to $5 or in some cases it can be free. If you have a very high income, you can still come there also but your fee will be higher."

Across the street from the clinic, Mario Rurez was taking his son to the drugstore to fill a prescription.

"I mean, it's a full-service clinic you know. Because right now, I actually just came from Methodist Hospital when I live right here. So if we have all that in here I don't have to go all the way to downtown so it'll be easier for me. I can walk from home to the hospital."

Rurez says there are many people in his community who don't have health insurance, or who simply don't have transportation to go to clinics in other neighborhoods. The Lyons Clinic is Houston's tenth Federally Qualified Health Center. Most other major cities have as many as 80 FQHCs. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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