Suzanne Clem is in the business of listening.
As director of Community Awareness at Open Door Health Services, Clem connects with neighbors about their needs related to healthcare and access. She hears what makes them feel valued and safe, then she works with leaders at Open Door to build those hopes and considerations into programs and services at the East Central Indiana nonprofit, Federally Qualified Health Center.
“We all know there are great needs in our area related to substance abuse and mental health,” she said. “In response, this past year we brought on a pain management specialist and a chiropractic physician to help people work through pain with an emphasis on non-opioid treatments. Last year, we quadrupled our behavioral health capacity with Psychological Assessment and Consulting becoming part of Open Door, and this year we’ve added two psychiatric nurse practitioners to our integrated behavioral health services.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Open Door quickly added telehealth, a service the center intended to add, “but the pandemic fast-tracked those plans,” Clem added. Being able to see a provider without leaving home, Clem said, is another way to reduce barriers to healthcare.
In addition, ODHS made a series of other updates, including new air filtration devices and clear barriers between hygienists and patients at the dental clinic. Partnering with the Delaware County Health Department, Open Door has provided free COVID-19 testing to residents since September. The community has demonstrated its gratitude.
“We’ve received overwhelming support in the form of donated hand-sewn masks, deliveries of treats and lunches for staff, and thank you notes that mean so much to our teams and keep their spirits high,” Clem said. “Our community has truly come together during COVID-19 to support each other, and we’ve been lucky enough to witness it time and time again.”
But as much Clem and her Open Door colleagues put into listening, they are also in the business of telling.
Clem leads communication and outreach efforts to inform residents of their access to comprehensive primary, urgent, and preventive healthcare services throughout East Central Indiana. Open Door provides these services, regardless of one’s health insurance status or income level, which is important in a county where nearly 22 percent of residents live in Poverty, according to the U.S. Census.
Many of the center’s services are available under one roof at its main location, 333 S. Madison St. Clem said Open Door’s attention to patients’ health and consideration for their time takes many forms, but consider this scenario: A resident comes in for medical and dental visits Open Door scheduled back-to-back at its main location in downtown Muncie. If the doctor gathers the patient could benefit from behavioral healthcare or support services like WIC, Open Door can often—during that visit—connect the patient with a provider in those or other services in the building, including women’s and prenatal care.
“Open Door Health Services is a patient-focused, whole-person approach to health, and one that is all about reducing barriers to care for our friends and neighbors,” said, who has served ODHS since 2018. “We want people to hear that everyone is welcome here, and we’re working to broaden the ways we communicate it to make sure everyone is reached — from building relationships with neighborhood associations and coalitions, to boosting our digital marketing efforts, to partnering with other nonprofits on programming and events.”
Although Open Door celebrates a centralized care model, the center offers a range of services at locations throughout Muncie and Anderson. Open Door also offers care to individuals and families at its mobile unit, which operates on school campuses throughout Muncie and Anderson. In late November, Open Door will open a location at 2600 W. White River Blvd. in Muncie. Next to LabCorp, this location will offer pediatrics, behavioral health, WIC, and other support services. In early 2021, family medicine and obstetric care will join the line-up.
Helping people know that they are valued is at the center of what we do.
“Good health is a big piece of someone’s overall quality of life, and we want to be able to connect our neighbors with the tools that can help them achieve or maintain good health. It goes beyond that, though,” said Clem, a two-time graduate of Ball State University. “We want to connect them with people who are invested in their health journey. We regularly have patients share with us that their physician or nurse feels like family to them. They tell us that our social workers made them feel truly understood, or that they never feel judged when they’re at Open Door. Helping people know that they are valued is at the center of what we do. This is the kind of care that we want to connect our community members with.”
Open Door Health Services has operated in Muncie for nearly 50 years. Learn more about the clinic and its comprehensive, open-to-all healthcare services at www.opendoorhs.org. Meet providers and learn about services and upcoming events on Facebook.
Shafer Leadership Academy and the Muncie Downtown Development Partnership are partnering on this series to highlight innovative leaders who are redefining typical during these extraordinary times.