Spindletop Center opens primary healthcare clinic, prepares for new housing unit

Spindletop Center opens primary healthcare clinic, prepares for new housing unit

The Spindletop Center is expanding. With the new primary healthcare clinic grand opening June 6 and plans for a new 15-unit low-income housing complex for people with mental or developmental disabilities in the works, the center is growing by leaps and bounds, all while keeping its mission in mind — the mission to promote independence, self-advocacy, and recovery for Spindltetop consumers.

According to a press release from the center, the newly opened clinic is the result of a generous grant from Community Health Choice, a nonprofit Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) licensed by the Texas Department of Insurance.

Community Health Choice CEO Ken Janda spoke at the grand opening ceremony of the new clinic his organization helped make possible.

“We are one of the HMOs who work in the area, particularly with low-income families,” Janda said regarding his organization. “We are nonprofit, so whenever we have some surplus, we try to find good uses for it in the community. … We supported this endeavor and gave Spindletop a $250,000 grant for building this place. … This is what collaboration should be about, and we are really determined to say that insurance companies and healthcare providers should not fight, as per the history of our business, but instead should be collaborating on projects like this that are good for the community and for the patients being served here, and at the same time help control healthcare costs. It’s our triple aim, you could say.”

Spindletop Center, serving Jefferson, Chambers, Hardin and Orange counties, is a community health center that helps people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, substance abuse issues and childhood developmental delays.

Betty Reynolds, chief behavioral health officer for Spindletop, said, “People with those conditions also have the same physical health concerns as anyone else. They have diabetes or other problems, and because of transportation issues, sometimes those conditions don’t get addressed. As a result, they may end up not showing up to appointments with a doctor who is trying to address their physical concerns.”

Information from Spindletop revealed that people with severe mental illness often have greater “no-show” rates for doctors’ appointments than the general population. The primary healthcare clinic is designed to target this population by providing better access to physical healthcare screening and services that emphasize “whole person” care, meaning a patient’s physical care and mental health care could be provided within the same outpatient facility.

“We have been working hard to be innovative in our treatment,” said Sally Broussard, chief authority officer for Spindletop. “We are pioneering efforts to build affordable housing for our clients and offering peer-to-peer support groups. Now, by expanding our role to focus more on our clients’ physical health, we are moving even further into a well-rounded, ‘whole person’ approach to helping people.”

In addition to the primary healthcare clinic, Spindletop is planning a third housing complex to serve patients. Spindletop will construct the 15-unit complex on land adjacent to the center’s south campus, located on South Eighth Street near Washington Boulevard.

The project is funded by federal grants and the city of Beaumont, who approved HOME funds aimed at the project in March, and brings the number of apartments Spindletop has available to 40.

The center learned in November 2011 that it had been chosen to receive more than $1.5 million in funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to build, from the ground up, yet another apartment block.

The grant funding awarded under HUD’s Sections 202 and 811 Supportive Housing programs will assist in construction or major rehabilitation on more than 189 housing developments in 41 different states and Puerto Rico. When complete, more than 4,800 people will have affordable housing and access to needed services.

Residents must be “very low income,” with household incomes less than 50 percent of their median for that area. However, most households that receive Section 811 or Section 202 assistance earn less than 30 percent of the median for their area.

“Just imagine trying to manage a condition like a mental illness diagnoses, remember to take your medications and get to your scheduled appointments when you don’t have a stable place to live,” said Broussard. “We are so pleased to be able to provide these facilities for our clients, and we are thrilled that HUD thinks this is a worthwhile project.”

Spindletop hopes to break ground in early July.


Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com.