Health Center News, Uncategorized

Green Clinics: Sustainable Building in the Health Center Movement, Part 2

By Yvette Ramirez Ammerman

A similar concern for the environment was demonstrated by Frontera Healthcare Network, the beautiful new clinic in Eden. Built with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, this stunning clinic replaces the old clinic, which was in a storefront in the tiny downtown area – and looked like an old West Saloon (see picture). This Community Health Center has two doctors and two Physician Assistants who are providing health care for the folks in Eden and the surrounding areas.

Cam Kleibrink, CEO of Frontera said, “Times have been tough in this area– our clinic is the first new building to go up in this town in over a decade…before that, the newest building was our post office…We wanted this clinic to be something the community could be proud of.” With the assistance of ARRA funds, Cam has created a graceful, spacious, welcoming clinic with a multitude of windows, a clerestory and tons of natural light. Most days in sunny Central Texas, they won’t even have to turn on the lights, the ambient light is so pervasive. Like Mike Campbell’s clinic in San Angelo, Cam’s clinic also uses huge cisterns to gather rainwater to conserve water for their verdant landscaping.

The highlight of all my visits to “Green” clinics was my visit last year to El Rio Community Health Center’s new clinic in Tucson, Arizona. It was here that the vision of the clinics’ leadership expanded the idea of contributing to community wellness by creating sustainable and environmentally responsible clinic facilities and work environments. Harvesting community support, El Rio utilized a grant of 54 solar panels from Tucson Electric Power, which replaced part of their electric usage. They also built the clinics’ roof and the parking lot at an incline to maximize rain catchment, and then recycled the water for use in their water preservationist landscape. But my favorite part of this visit was discovering what looked like meters in the parking lot – but were actually plug-ins for electric cars!