NorthLakes Community Clinic, White Lake have Reason to Celebrate
Eight months after assuming management, NorthLakes Community Clinic and the village of White Lake are celebrating.
NorthLakes, which stepped in and took over the clinic when it was in imminent danger of closure, will hold an open house with tours on Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
“We’re very excited to be here,” Reba Rice, CEO of the sprawling NorthLakes system, said.
There will be coffee and pastries and an opportunity to meet Samantha DeBroux, the new family nurse practitioner. She will be joining Leslee Granke, women’s health nurse practitioner, who began taking appointments in July.
The clinic is currently open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It is accepting new patients and can be reached at 715-882-2353.
The clinic opened in 2014 as a joint effort between Aspirus Langlade Hospital, which owns the facility, and Northern Health Centers, which had been responsible for staffing.
But in February Northern Health Centers announced quietly that its executive board had voted to close the facility, citing a $30,000 annual loss it termed unsustainable. It did not announce a timetable for the action.
That stirred the community to action, with people packed into the Community Center for a series of meetings with Northern Health Centers and Aspirus representatives as well as the Langlade County Board of Health.
Eventually, Aspirus Langlade Hospital agreed to renegotiate the rent of the clinic and Northern Health Centers merged with NorthLakes, which made it possible to keep the site open.
“We’re grateful to the community for all the noise,” Rice said. “The community did exactly what it should do. That’s exactly what community health centers are about.”
NorthLakes implemented a new sliding fee scale and has been gradually enhancing services and at White Lake, including a focus on women’s health and having a nurse practitioner in-house 3 1/2 days a week.
Behavioral health services are also in the pipeline, perhaps in conjunction with the White Lake school, and NorthLakes is seriously looking at the possibility of an onsite pharmacy for its patients.
“We think that could make a big difference,” Rice said.
Rice, along with Judy Popelka and Dave Krochalk of the board of health, spent a recent day focused on community outreach, visiting with village and school representatives and others.
“We continue to listen to the community,” Rice said. “We serve here at the pleasure of the community and it is very important for us to know what people here want.”
Headquartered in Iron River, NorthLakes Community Clinic is a regional community health center, with additional clinic locations in Ashland, Balsam Lake, Birchwood, Hayward, Minong, Park Falls, Turtle Lake and Washburn.
Source: Antigo Daily Journal, August 23, 2019 edition