DANVILLE — The days of Danville having status as a health care “desert,” a notoriety due its zip code being so far from medical care and other health-related services, is now over, said Lane Belangia, the Knox County Health Department’s Community Health Center (CHC) CEO. And now, he added, even more good news is on the way for Danville, which was cause for celebration on a gorgeous fall weekend afternoon.
Belangia and other CHC staff, joined by county Health Commissioner Julie Miller, celebrated the opening of a second CHC location earlier this year in downtown Danville at 12 E. Main St. with the annual Community Appreciation Day event on Saturday. Families who participated at Memorial Park were treated to free food, bounce houses and bicycle obstacle courses for children, flu shots, cornhole game competition, and other events.
“I think it’s wonderful and amazing that the community does something like this,” said parent Chanity Igou, watching and smiling as her daughter, Elesya, 7, completed a bicycle obstacle course. Upon finishing the obstacle course, Elesya received a free bike helmet compliments of Creating Healthy Communities, a county health department program.
Belangia said Danville’s recent re-ascension to health care access within its own community has been recent but steady. The village’s CHC was open just one day per week, but now is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., just like the larger CHC on Upper Gilchrist Road in Mount Vernon. The Danville site is staffed by a registered nurse, with several nurses rotating in and out of Danville; a Certified Medical assistant, Stephanie Fields; and a nurse practitioner, Jenny McClain, who treats medical patients Tuesday through Friday.
Just two years ago, access to medical care in the area was far different, Belangia said. A long-standing physician had retired. About the same time, a nurse practitioner provided by Knox Community Hospital left Danville after several years to practice in Columbus. And Lonsinger’s Pharmacy closed in Danville as well, leaving village residents without immediate access to medical care or prescriptions.
The situation changed after Belangia began talking with Denise and Kevin Conway, owners of Conway’s Eastside Pharmacy in Mount Vernon. They realized the need for medical care and pharmaceutical access in Danville, and, joined by business partners Josh and Melissa Kirby, bought the building at 12 East Main and leased it to the county health department. It’s the same building Lonsinger’s Pharmacy had occupied.
“Access to healthcare is the backbone of any thriving community,” Denise Conway said. “The kind of collaboration we have with the (CHC) is key in telling other small communities, ‘You can do this, too.’”
Belangia said the Conways are bringing even more good news to Danville: They will be opening a new pharmacy location, which should happen this week. And it will be located right across the street from the Community Health Center. Belangia added that one positive aspect of having a health center in Danville is already evident in the educational setting: CHC staff is providing sports-related physical exams in schools.
Danville’s CHC site has room to expand, with plans for behavioral healthcare and dental services planned for the future, he said.
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