Flint, MI—With hopes of addressing gaps in healthcare services, Hamilton Community Health Network is planning to construct a new medical facility on the east side of Flint. 

The healthcare provider currently has a total of eight clinics, and by building the new facility, it hopes to expand opportunities for care to Flint’s eastside residents. 

Clarence Pierce, Hamilton’s CEO, said the network plans to first include primary care and behavioral health services at the coming facility, with dental and other services to launch later on. 

As a federally qualified health center, or FQHC, Pierce said Hamilton targets medically underserved communities, and Flint’s east side is designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area among low-income populations.

The designation is calculated by the federal government based on the population to doctor ratio, the percentage of residents living below federal poverty level and the travel time to the nearest primary care provider, he explained. 

“Access is an issue for many of the people on the east side,” Pierce said. “We want to eliminate that barrier by building a state-of-the-art health facility so that people will have easy access to a comprehensive package.” 

According to Pierce, the east side has seen the retirement of a number of physicians who once served the community for decades, with more retiring in the near future. 

Further, he said, traveling to Hamilton’s current clinics, such as its Burton clinic or main clinic on Saginaw Street, can be a burden for some eastside residents. So building a facility nearer to those residents would reduce their transit time.

“Our program provides a medical home for patients and we see that as lacking significantly for people on the east side,” he said, defining a medical home as a primary care provider who manages patients’ care and refers them to specialty care, if needed.

Hamilton’s eastside development is part of the healthcare provider’s efforts to expand its footprint and accessibility across communities.

Hamilton’s last addition to its network was the Hamilton-McFarlan Senior Health Center, located inside McFarlan Villages, a senior residential community in Flint. That clinic opened in 2021. 

“The idea there was to embed primary care in a senior care center,” Pierce said. “Seniors, in many cases, have difficulty getting out especially in the wintertime. In collaborating with the management at McFarlan, we thought a clinic within that facility would be a real benefit to the patients and residents who live there.”

With respect to its eastside project, Pierce said the healthcare provider has already identified three potential properties to purchase and hopes to break ground on the facility within the next two years.

He said Hamilton is fundraising about $6 million from city, county, state, federal and internal funding sources for the facility’s construction and equipment, with roughly $3 million in funds already committed to the project. 

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...