J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center, Inc.

J.C. Lewis Health Center to split from Union Mission

Officials anticipate no change in location or services for city’s uninsured and underinsured.

A local primary health care center for the uninsured and underinsured will step out from under the umbrella of one of the area’s largest shelters and providers of services for the homeless.

Union Mission officials announced Tuesday the J.C. Lewis Health Care Center will form its own independent corporation with a separate board of directors starting Jan. 1, 2011.

The split will allow the Lewis Center to qualify for more federal health care grants, many of which come with strict management guidelines, said John Tatum, incoming board chairman.

“The long and short of it is if we continued to control the J.C. Lewis Health Center, it just would not be able to take full advantage of the funding that is available to it,” said Tatum. “So it’s better for the community; it’s better for Union Mission; it’s better for the health center and everybody concerned.”

The J.C. Lewis Health Care Center is one of about six Savannah area providers targeting the uninsured and underinsured population. In 2009, the center provided medical services to more than 6,100 patients and dental services to more than 1,100 patients.

Officials said those services will continue without interruption at the same facility located downtown at 125 Fahm St.

The Lewis Center was created in 1999 as a subsidiary of Union Mission to service the homeless and those at risk of being homeless. Programs include outpatient care, behavioral health services, dental care, respite care and care and housing for those with HIV.

For Union Mission, the separation will allow the 74-year-old agency to refocus on its original mission: Serving the homeless and at-risk population, officials said.

“This change comes after many years of nurturing and care provided by Union Mission,” said Frances Carter, Union Mission interim CEO, in a statement released Tuesday.

“Union Mission was there when the J.C. Lewis Health Care Center needed the support to get started and now is stepping back to continue its mission of helping end homelessness.”

J.C. Lewis III, son of the program’s late benefactor, released a separate statement supporting the change.

“The Lewis family is delighted that the J.C. Lewis Health Care Center has grown to the point where it can stand on its own,” he said in the statement.

Reference: http://savannahnow.com/news/2010-12-14/jc-lewis-health-center-split-union-mission