WAKEFIELD – Local, state and federal officials and executives were present on a cold and rainy Monday morning for the groundbreaking of the new Thundermist Health Center of South County.
The new 20,000-square foot medical and dental facility will be located at 1 River St. in Wakefield and is expected to open in early 2015.
Mary “Polly” Eddy, past chair of the Thundermist Health Center Board of Directors, said that the health center currently serves 7,500 patients and the new center will be able to serve more than 10,000.
“Part of Thundermist’s mission is not just to improve the health of its patients but the health of the overall community,” said Charles T. Jones, president and CEO of Thundermist. “This new facility will allow us to serve thousands more patients with new partners. It will give us the ability to provide patient-centered care for the net decades.”
While a portion of the project is being funded through a federal grant – last May Thundermist received more than $5.2 million from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration - Jones said Thundermist is still trying to raise an additional $1.5 million for the project.
In addition to the construction project in South County, a portion of that grant is also going toward expanding dental services in West Warwick.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee pointed out that Thundermist received the grant through the Affordable Care Act, adding that Rhode Island is one of the states leading the way when it come to Affordable Care Act policies.
Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts said Thundermist is a great example of community cooperation.
“They’re asking a lot, they’re expecting a lot, but I know that Thundermist is up to doing it.”
Thundermist currently offers medical and dental care, behavioral health services, social services and “quick care.”
In 2012, Thundermist served 7,528 patients at its South County location in 2012. Of those patients, 4,565 were medical patients and 3,787 were dental patients.
The majority of patients served at the South County location were from South Kingstown, 2,526, another 962 were from Narragansett, and an additional 841 patients served were from North Kingstown.
The majority, 41 percent, of Thundermist patients served last year were uninsured.
Jones said the new facility will allow Thundermist and its staff to continue to serve patients with the least access and the least ability to afford access to health care.
The 43-year-old facility will get a much-needed facelift and continue to serve thousands of South County residents.