JAMHI Health & Wellness, Inc. celebrated their Midtown Clinic located at the House First Project with an open house on Friday, June 22, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

JAMHI Health & Wellness, Inc. celebrated their Midtown Clinic located at the House First Project with an open house on Friday, June 22, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Open to all, new clinic at Housing First gaining patients

The Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc. recently added the phrase “Health and Wellness” to their name.

It’s not a distinction without a difference, said CEO Dave Branding on Friday. The additional words signal a change in philosophy. With the opening of their new Midtown Clinic, JAMHI Health and Wellness has added full-service primary care medicine to its list of services.

Add to that the recent partnership with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) Juneau, which combined under one roof with JAMHI in February, and JAMHI Health and Wellness is a significantly different organization than it was a year ago.

They have “one mission: whole person health care,” Branding said.

The Midtown Clinic is open to anyone, regardless of ability to pay, Branding told the Empire over barbecue at an open house Friday. The clinic charges clients on a sliding fee scale. It’s located in the bottom floor of the Housing First Facility, positioning it to provide care for the building’s tenants, many of whom are recovering from alcohol dependency or who live with mental or physical disabilities.

Clinic clients don’t need to live in the Housing First facility. The public can join the clinic too, said Chief Integrated Services Officer Doug Harris. The clinic has about 175 patients so far since it opened at the beginning of January. That’s without advertising the clinic at all. Friday’s open house was the first real advertising the clinic has done.

[Nonprofits merge to combine mental health, addition treatments]

Some clients have insurance, others don’t, Harris said. They hope to get about 500 clients total. The facility — three exam rooms, a lobby and a lab — can serve about 12-16 clients a day.

Midtown can afford to do this by applying as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). Clinics qualify as FQHCs if they meet certain critieria, Harris said, including having to have patients on its governing board. Health care providers in medically underserved areas can become FQHCs, or clinics that serve the homeless of migrant populations.

Midtown Clinic is applying as an FQHC right now. If Midtown gets certified, they’ll be eligible for receive funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration Health Center Program.

JAMHI Health and Wellness has been a part of the Housing First project since its inception. Planners set out from the start to include a clinic at Housing First as a way to increase Housing First tenant’s access to health care. Housing First opened its 32-unit facility September 2017. It’s “down the elevator, out the door and in” Harris said, from a Housing First unit to the Midtown Clinic.


• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


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