Just blocks from downtown Salt Lake live more than 3,000 schoolchildren and their parents who have no nearby medical clinic or family physician.
But next month all that will change when a former storage room officially opens its door as the new IHC Neighborhood Clinic, soon to become the town doctor for the 84104 ZIP code.Lawmakers, church officials, philanthropists and Intermountain Health Care officials cut the ribbon Wednesday on the new clinic, located inside the Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center, 855 W. California Ave. (1300 South). The bright reception area and tidy patient rooms were once a storage area next to one of the center's gymnasiums.
When the clinic opens in mid-May it will serve anyone living in the 84104 ZIP code regardless of their ability to pay. The area has no physicians or medical clinics and some of the families in the area don't have health insurance or transportation to a medical facility, said Pamela Atkinson, vice president of mission services for IHC.
"This is unique. It is the only one in our country set up this way," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "These are kids who need help and this is a facility as good as I've ever seen."
Many of the ceremony's speakers, including Hatch and Pres. Thomas S. Monson, of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, praised the philanthropy of Jim and Beverly Sorenson, for whom the center is named, and Atkinson, whose tireless efforts in social services are renowned.
Atkinson also received a standing ovation and a replica of a students' mural on the subject of peace for her efforts in making the clinic a reality.
In typical Atkinson fashion, the poverty advocate and higher education regent, said there is more work to be done to further improve the lives of families in the area, including the creation of a senior clinic, dental services, a food pantry and mentoring help.
Staff at the clinic will work with the 3,336 students from Edison, Frank-lin, Mountain View, Park-view, Riley and Guadalupe elementary schools and Glendale Middle School. The 900 children that are bused out of the neighborhood to high school will also be served.
A family nurse practitioner, registered nurse and medical assistant will provide services including physical exams, chronic disease management, treatment for minor injuries and well-baby and well-child check ups. Social service program, like Success by Six, and a social worker will also be available for families.
A school-based health clinic at Lincoln Elementary, which handled more than 1,900 cases since its inception in 1996, was the pilot project for the new clinic.