The plan for a new health clinic in Southern Dallas is aimed at reducing 911 calls and emergency room visits by serving an area with very little existing health care.
A four-acre site owned by the City of Dallas at South Lancaster Road and Wheatland Road will be donated to the project. Charities and non-profit organizations would build and operate the clinic.
The cost is now estimated to be $15 million, up from $10.7 million in April because more groups have requested space to provide service at the clinic.
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People attending a wellness and safety brunch Thursday for the Dallas South Central Police Patrol Area to be served by the clinic said they welcome the plan.
“It’s long in coming,” said resident Frank Dyer. “I wish that we would have had it earlier, but that’s something that is needed more than ever.”
“It will be something that we really need, not far from where we live,” said resident Martha H. Smith.
Much of the South Central Dallas Patrol area is a health care desert, with hospitals or clinics miles away. In that area more than 2,500 calls to 911 in an 11-month period of 2017 turned out to be people with mental health issues.
“This is costing a lot of money for police, EMS to take sick people to the hospital because of those mental health things,” said Dallas City Council Member Rickey Callahan.
Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson has a mental health diversion program for people who have already been arrested. She said treatment at the clinic could help keep people with behavioral health issues from getting arrested.
“We understand that we’ve got to get ahead of the problem. We don’t want to be behind it. We want to be ahead of it. That’s why our mental illness diversion program is so important. That’s why l love this clinic. The fact that we are reaching out in an area that we have not reached out before,” Johnson said.
Resident Ernestine Rhymes said the clinic could help grandparents with their own health problems and with those of their grandchildren.
“A lot of times grandparents raise grandchildren and they have a lot of problems in school. So now they’ll have someplace to take their youngsters when they have problems in school,” she said.
Kids who don’t get help for behavioral problems as youngsters can grow up into adults who wind up in jail.
“But I’m telling you, they came from homes and loving,” Rhymes said. “And maybe if we had had some kind of behavior for some problems at an early age, then maybe we wouldn’t be going down that track.”
No opening date is set for the clinic but work is underway to arrange the funding. The plan does not call for using city tax money.