Pancake Breakfast Benefit raises $2,890 for Maple City Health Care Center

GOSHEN, IN—The Maple City Health Care Center, Goshen, received $2,890 from the ninth annual pancake breakfast benefit sponsored by Greencroft Retirement Communities.

A total of 425 people attended the breakfast, held at Goshen’s Greencroft Senior Center, April 13.

The pancakes were cooked by volunteers from the Exchange Club of Elkhart County. Goshen Orthopedic Associates and Dr. Rachelle Crowder, Goshen, paid for tickets for some patients and staff of Maple City Health Care Center to attend the breakfast. Hawkins Water Tech, Middlebury and Elkhart, donated bottles of water. Greencroft provided the food and staff volunteers for the event.

The Maple City Health Center was opened in February 1989 by James Nelson Gingerich M.D. Dr. Gingerich and Beth Elmore, nurse midwife, are co-administrators. The Center’s staff of more than 20 serves 5,000 patients, many low income, who live in the north, east and central Goshen neighborhoods.

The event was sponsored by Greencroft Retirement Communities as part of its social accountability to the community. The dollars raised for community projects in Elkhart County over nine years total $18,990.

Building a healthy community

Goshen’s Maple City Health Care Center is about building healthy community in the neighborhoods it serves by providing and promoting accessible, affordable, culturally appropriate and integrated primary care to 5,000 patients.

The center opened in February 1989 in a former fire station at 213 Middlebury St., across from Chamberlain Elementary School. It’s founder, James Nelson Gingerich, M.D., continues to rally the team and the greater community in meeting the needs of this federally-designated medically underserved population in north, east and central Goshen neighborhoods.

Since the center focuses so heavily on community-building, it limits its practice to people who live in its “catchment area,” which covers much of north central Goshen neighborhoods. People who move outside the area may chose to remain as patients.

With the center’s driving passion to build community, the team has tackled some pretty tough terrain: Who gets care? Who pays? How do you determine what is culturally appropriate? How do you overcome the fragmentation of traditional health services?

Not only does the Maple City Health Care Center address these questions directly, the staff of around 20 is having fun doing it, said Dr. Gingerich.

In a honeycomb of offices, exam rooms, waiting room, play area for children and conference/break room for staff, physicians, nurses, social worker, receptionists, director of operations, educators, counselors and patients traverse the maze that leads them to the goal of a practice more oriented to family and community than to just the individual.

Between 40-45 percent of the patients are under age 18. That percentage is kept steady by a high birth rate. In 2004 there were 150-160 deliveries, with signs that the numbers will increase in 2005.

The power of relationships was shown when the last women in one group to give birth had a still birth. Seeing how the rest of her group rallied around her was like seeing a miracle. They brought food to the family, they visited, they shared in a way that showed again how a professional relationship is never a substitute for the caring group, Dr. Gingerich said.

Hospitality pervades the center’s program. “We work at having this be a home for people,” Dr. Gingerich said. “We try to go out of our way to let people know they are accepted. There’s no need for them to have to prove they belong or fear that they will end up medically homeless.”

For its charges, the center uses a sliding fee scale. Every patient pays something, even if it is only 10 percent of the full cost, as is the case with the 40 percent of households below the federal poverty guidelines ($18,000 for a family of four).

Other ways of making ends meet include insurance reimbursement, Medicaid and enrolling those eligible for Medicaid, state grants, keeping costs as low as possible * which means salaries are lower than in comparable jobs elsewhere (though pay for entry level is above market rates), distributing pharmaceutical samples ($150,000 worth last year), and a loaves and fishes kind of faith that looks to the support of individuals, churches, businesses and the wider medical community when specialty services are needed.

For Dr. Gingerich, the Maple City Health Care Center is a “deliberate effort to do something different. What’s here, I believe can also grow elsewhere, too.”

John Bender • Public Relations Manager

Greencroft Retirement Communities