Carroll University, Wisconsin’s first four-year institution of higher learning, and St. Joseph’s Medical Clinic, the state’s oldest free clinic, will partner to provide services to uninsured and underserved patients in Waukesha. Carroll University has purchased a 9,000-square-foot building on Wisconsin Avenue in Waukesha, Wisconsin to house the programs.
“As part of the community, it is our duty to contribute to the health and wellness of each and every citizen of Waukesha,” Carroll President Dr. Cindy Gnadinger said of the collaboration.
Carroll will occupy the main floor and lower level of the building, while St. Joseph’s Free Medical Clinic will lease the top floor. Carroll’s physician assistant studies faculty and students will help provide additional medical services through the free clinic to Waukesha’s underserved communities. Carroll's Health Science programs will also offer new programming, with a focus on long-term health and wellness.
The nursing, occupational therapy and public health programs plan to add:
- Integrative health and health literacy services.
- Well-child visits, prenatal programming, hand writing clinics and community health education.
- A dementia-care training center.
- Health and wellness program for people suffering with chronic conditions such as arthritis or diabetes.
“This ties in well with our Christian mission to prepare students for vocational success and to provide service in our diverse community,” said Tom Pahnke, dean of the College of Health and Sciences. “It’s a great opportunity to partner with St. Joseph’s and have additional space for our academic programs. This endeavor allows our faculty and students to offer health and wellness services for Waukesha’s underserved and underinsured populations, while also educating our future healthcare providers in a culturally sensitive manner.”
Kathy Becker, executive director of St. Joseph’s Free Medical Clinic, said, “This could be a really powerful partnership. It provides students with education while providing service to the community.” She hopes the partnership will help the free clinic to expand hours, which are now held three days a week, to five.
The St. Joseph’s clinic currently has more than 50 volunteers ranging from physicians to nurses to receptionists who help provide 2,757 services to 566 patients annually. “We serve a lot of people, but we’d like to increase that,” Becker said. “Physician assistant students already have skills and could take patient histories, which could free up health providers to see more patients.” Becker said Carroll students could provide support in other ways as well. “They come to the table with new and innovative ideas, and I think that is a good thing.”
The building, located at 237 Wisconsin Ave., will undergo renovation before either organization moves in. Pahnke did not have a definite date for its opening, but expected it would be during the next academic year.
Becker said funds from the clinic’s capital campaign will help pay for remodeling its new space and, once the move is made, service would no longer be available at its East Avenue site.
Carroll currently offers a twice-weekly free Therapeutic Abilities Clinic (TAC) at its Sentry Drive building for patients without insurance. It serves about 30 patients and is staffed by faculty-supervised physical therapy students who provide help and exercise guidance for individuals with chronic neurological conditions.