GOSHEN — In an effort to assist with financial issues arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Goshen Health donated land and facilities worth $1.7 million to local nonprofit Maple City Health Care Center.

According to James Gingerich, guardian of vision for Maple City Health Care Center, the donation by Goshen Health, which operates nearly 40 health care facilities in the area including Goshen Hospital, will help ensure primary medical care for more than 6,000 people a year in Goshen, including many of the people most vulnerable to loss of life from COVID-19.

The land and facilities donated to the center last week house Vista Community Health Center, one of Maple City Health Care Center’s two sites.

“Goshen Health’s $1.7 donation is a gift to our community,” Gingerich said of the donation. “The gift will help us provide medical care through the pandemic and for years to come.”

Maple City Health Care Center fosters a healthy community by providing affordable, accessible, integrated, high quality primary care, Gingerich explained.

The center operates two sites — Vista Community Health Center on North Main Street, and Northside Community Health Center on Middlebury Street. Both sites are located on the north side of Goshen.

In 2015, Goshen Health and the Community Foundation of Elkhart County provided key funding to help launch Vista Community Health Center. Goshen Health purchased the land and facilities known informally as the Abshire Mansion.

At the time, Goshen Health planned to deed the land to Maple City Health Care Center in 2025, Gingerich explained. Then came the pandemic.

“We quickly realized we faced lots of financial stress,” Gingerich said. “In order to help keep our patients and our staff safe, we are limiting face-to-face visits to urgent needs. We are interacting with our patients by phone and video as much as possible. These strategies result in a large loss of income.”

Gingerich noted that typically Maple City Health Care Center provides 475 billable visits a week. However, for the past three weeks, the center has provided an average of 70 billable visits a week.

“While our income is drastically reduced, we need to retain staff,” Gingerich said. “We need providers and support staff to be able to care for patients through the pandemic and beyond. Our primary contribution to our community’s health during the pandemic is to keep our patients healthy enough that fewer people need hospital care.

“We found that our local bank was willing to increase our line of credit, but needed additional collateral,” he added of the center’s financial situation. “We asked Goshen Health if they could donate the Vista property earlier than 2025. They graciously agreed.”

In addressing the early donation, Goshen Health President and CEO Randy Christophel expressed appreciation for the ongoing, quality work the center provides to the Goshen community.

“We appreciate Maple City Health Care Center and how passionately they work to meet the needs of our community,” Christophel said. “Their contribution has an enormous impact, and we feel privileged to work alongside them and provide support where we can.

“This pandemic has created challenges for many nonprofits who fight poverty, food instability and poor health,” added Jim Caskey, vice president and campaign director for the Goshen Health Foundation. “Maple City Health Care Center has been a particularly dynamic organization, evolving and adapting as new needs have arisen. We are delighted to collaborate with them in serving our community.”

According to Gingerich, about a third of Maple City’s patients live on an income below poverty. A third are unable to obtain health insurance. About two thirds of the patients are Hispanic.

“We are a federally qualified community health center. We are providing primary care services to a largely underserved population, largely low income. About 45% of our patients are 18 and under, and about 70% of our patients are Spanish speaking, many of them uninsured and most of them low income,” Gingerich said of the center. “We offer all of our services on a sliding pay scale, and have integrated behavioral health and addictions programs as well. So, it’s a wide range of services that we offer in primary care. From the beginning, our goal has always been oriented around making integrated, high-quality care accessible to the most vulnerable members of our community.”

While Maple City Health Care Center is completely separate from and independent of Goshen Health, the two organizations collaborate closely to improve the health of people in the Goshen area, Gingerich explained.

“We’re totally independent from them, and we’re doing our community health work. We collaborate where we can, and find common ground, but we are not controlled by or owned by the hospital or anything like that,” Gingerich said. “At the same time, they’ve been extremely generous in helping us to expand the services we can offer and keep going. So, it’s been really pretty lovely.”

Looking forward, Gingerich said he’s hopeful Maple City Health Care Center will be able to sustain its programs and care for many years to come.

“With Goshen Health’s donation, with generous help from local donors and businesses, with some help from the Federal Government, and with a small business loan, we are currently optimistic that we have the resources we need to continue our work,” Gingerich said. “Long term, I think it’s going to be challenging to figure out how to make this kind of care sustainable financially, but we have been resilient, we’ve been here for 30 years, and we’re going to find a way to do it. And fortunately, with the help of Goshen Hospital and others, we have a little bit of breathing space so that we actually have a little bit of time to try to figure out how to make that work and get it in place.”

For more information about Maple City Health Care Center, visit www.mchcc.org.

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 240315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.

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