Health

Thanks to a donor's $1 million loan, this free clinic in Cedar Rapids has a new home

His Hands Free Clinic opens new medical facility Tuesday

Faith Crawley (left), an AmeriCorps Vista worker, Margie Leonard (center), assistant clinic coordinator, and Mallory Hug
Faith Crawley (left), an AmeriCorps Vista worker, Margie Leonard (center), assistant clinic coordinator, and Mallory Hughes, clinic coordinator, stock the medicine room Wednesday at the new His Hands Free Clinic on Second Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids. With the purchase of the new space, which formerly housed an eye clinic, His Hands has doubled its footprint, allowing for expanded medical services and more patient privacy. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — In its 28-year history, His Hands Free Clinic has never operated in a space built for medical care.

But that will change this month as the faith-based nonprofit moves into a new space, bought and renovated through a $1 million loan.

“I definitely tell people it’s historic,” said Executive Director Dawn Brouwers. “His Hands has never been in a building set up for a clinic, so it’s historic.”

Providers at His Hands Free Clinic, which offers free medical, dental and mental health care to uninsured and underinsured Cedar Rapids residents, will see patients starting Tuesday at the new clinic, 1245 Second Ave. SE.

The new space will increase the clinic’s capacity, allowing more patients to receive services at any given time and offering more flexibility in its offerings. Patient rooms in the medical clinic will be bumped up from four to six, and in the dental side of the clinic, providers can see three patients at a time instead of two.

In addition, in the old clinic space, physical therapy and chiropractic services shared one room, meaning those services couldn’t happen at the same time. Now, in the new space, Brouwers said, the services will be separated, enabling the clinic to expand the service to more patients.

“Our goal is to be able to add providers as well, but we will have to start slow,” Brouwers said, noting that recruitment efforts are on hold during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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A new clinic had been in a strategic plan for the past five years, but Brouwers said the move wouldn’t have been possible without a $1 million loan from a longtime donor of His Hands Free Clinic. The loan will be paid back to the donor within five years.

Brouwers said the donor — who wants to remain anonymous — has given to the faith-based free clinic since its inception nearly 30 years ago.

“I had a meeting with a donor ... and I told her we were looking at a building, but we’re still trying to figure out a loan from a bank,” Brouwers said. “She asked, ‘Would a loan of $1 million help you?’ My jaw dropped.”

The cost to purchase the building — a former Wolfe Eye Clinic — was about $800,000. Renovation costs inside were about $325,000.

Brouwers said officials purchased the building back in December and have been renovating since. His Hands Free Clinic closed its former space on 12th Street SE on June 22 to prepare for the move.

Clinic staff will continue to screen patients for symptoms of COVID-19 and limit staff to only essential workers within the new space as the number of positive cases for the virus continue to rise locally. His Hands’ dental clinic, which has been closed since March, is beginning to resume operations.

“We will continue to see patients at every level,” Brouwers said.

Comments: (319) 398-8469; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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