With ongoing financial issues at Westlake Medical Center, the community is organizing to help support the not-for-profit primary care clinic as it works toward becoming self-sufficient once more.
Osage Community Elks Lodge 2705 was a major benefactor of the clinic when it opened in 1996. Now, it is stepping in to help out again.
The Elks are hosting a benefit dinner Saturday, May 18 at the lodge located at 174 Elks Lane in Laurie. The event will start at 5 p.m. with the pork chop dinner to be served at 5:30 and live entertainment by Helen Russell from 6:30-9:30 p.m. There is a $50 per plate donation requested.
Tickets can be purchased at the clinic located in the Laurie Terrace Mall now through May 10. Tickets will not be available at the door, so buy your tickets today.
In addition to fundraising events, monetary donations are being sought.
Contributions can be sent to Community Foundation of the Ozarks, P.O. Box 8960, Springfield, MO 65801. Make checks payable to Westlake Medical Center. Donate online at www.cfozarks.org and under Fund put Westlake Medical Center. Or visit Westlake Medical Center in the Laurie Terrace Mall to donate.
In recent months, one of two doctors at the clinic announced that she was moving to another practice. It had been feared that the medical center might have to lay off workers, or ultimately close the facility, if a replacement couldn't be found.
With close to 90 percent of its patients on Medicare, low reimbursement rates from the government have caused financial hardship for the facility. It has also struggled to attract and maintain providers at the clinic to spread out expenses and boost revenues. The facility is designed to have four practictioners, but has not had that number for several years.
After the notification of its second physician leaving, the clinic's board of directors hired a recruiter to find a new practitioner.
Michael Henry, D.O., joined Dr. Kenneth Derrington at the practice in March.
The clinic is still seeking donations to help pay the recruiter's fee and the guaranteed base salary of Dr. Henry for the first year.
The hunt for providers is also not over. The board's goal is to get the clinic back up to four practitioners. The board is exploring different options to bring in more providers.