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Salt Lake City's 4th Street Clinic to double in size by next fall

Published September 12, 2012 7:51 pm

Federal grant • $3 million will fund dental lab and more.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

By fall of 2013, Utah's largest community health center will double in size.

Kristy Chambers, executive director of Salt Lake City's 4th Street Clinic, on Wednesday unveiled details of how the planned expansion will progress, speaking at the quarterly meeting of the state's Homeless Coordinating Committee.

The 7,500-square-foot facility at 404 S. 400 West received a $2.9 million federal grant in May via the Affordable Care Act, funding earmarked for capital expansion.

That award felt like winning the lottery, Chambers said, but what she finds even more exciting are the expanded services those dollars will provide. For starters, the clinic will add a dental lab.

"We've allotted $25,000 to provide services and referrals for dentistry," Chambers said of the clinic's current oral health capacity. "Once that $25,000 is used up, that's the extent of our ability to provide dental care."

Describing that mode as "Dodge City dental" — where teeth are often extracted because extensive decay is impacting the individual's overall health — Chambers applauded the pending three-chair dental service.

"We feel we can make a little bit of a difference," Chambers said. "Get the children in there, get their teeth fixed and get that dental education early on — it's a lifetime of better success."

The expansion will also include a substance abuse and behavioral health clinic, an addition that Chambers views as critical to treating the underserved population that flows through the facility's doors at the rate of about 90 people each day.

"You need to treat individuals continually for all aspects of what they're dealing with," Chambers said of the "vulnerable and fragile" community. "It's what we do. We can't treat just one piece of it . . . and expect results."For Eric Scott, a transplant from Arkansas who moved to Utah 13 years ago to participate in Job Corps, the 4th Street Clinic has served him well.

"I'd probably be dead without it," Scott said solemnly as he sat in the waiting room Wednesday afternoon.

At 41, Scott wrestles with narcolepsy, depression, anxiety and a degenerative neck condition that doles out chronic chest pain, which he said feels like a heart attack. Months ago, the clinic assigned him a primary care physician and also connects him with specialists who can address those specific needs.

"Each one of our patients now actually has a primary physician," Chambers said, "and that's huge."

The clinic also operates a full pharmacy that has quadrupled in size over the past six years and it will expand again with the new makeover.

Construction should start in January 2013 and finish by fall. The architect will be selected later this month and some demolition will need to take place to allow for expansion west of the clinic's current footprint.

"My main objective is that I want a lovely building that shows we care for the people in our community," Chambers told committee members Wednesday.

"I also want matching furniture," she added with a grin.

cmckitrick@sltrib.com

twitter: @catmck