Kennebec rallies for new clinicTownspeople raise thousands, pursue agreement with Avera.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
KENNEBEC — Kennebec and Avera Health could soon sign an agreement to establish a new clinic in the town.
Sanford Health closed the former clinic in September, leaving Kennebec’s 244 residents without any local medical care.
The town’s clinic committee is hopeful now that a clinic will be open and running by June.
“I think the committee feels we are on our way,” said Herb Sundall , a local lawyer and member of the committee. “We will reach our goal.”
During a community meeting recently, 35 residents supported constructing a new clinic by pledging funds to pay for it.
“At the meeting we asked the people present for an informal pledge of the amount they felt they could contribute,” Sundall said. “There were only 35 people there because the weather wasn’t very nice, but those 35 people pledged over $60,000.”
A new 1,248 square-foot building will be built on the lot where the previous clinic building was located. Sanford hauled the building that housed the former clinic to a different location within the Sanford Health system.
Sundall said Sanford Health deeded the lot to the city, which would have otherwise been “a few thousand dollars in value.”
“We are very appreciative of that,” he said.
The committee hopes to raise up to $100,000. As of Thursday, the clinic committee had $74,000 in pledges, $54,000 of which has been collected. The committee hopes to raise all funds through private donations. The committee is also in discussions with Avera regarding the terms of a lease, Sundall said.
“That lease is not yet signed, but we believe that we have an agreement in principle as to the terms,” he said. “We hope to sign a lease within a few days.”
The Kennebec Town Board has agreed to take ownership of the clinic building, lease it to Avera and appoint a clinic advisory committee to oversee the town’s involvement in the clinic, Sundall said.
Construction will not begin until the lease is signed, he added.
He said a nurse will be at the clinic five days a week and patients will likely be introduced to telemedicine — consulting with doctors at hospitals in Pierre and Mitchell through video conference.
Although nothing is for certain until the lease is signed, the clinic committee is happy with the results of their and the community’s hard work.
“The clinic committee was elated at the overwhelming support shown by the community,” Sundall said. “We have people who perhaps can’t afford to donate that did.”