Since opening its doors Nov. 19, Westside Family Healthcare in Middletown has already serviced more than 100 patients – half of whom did not have health insurance, officials said.
On Dec. 10, the non-profit, affordable primary care practice held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony for its sixth facility, which is located on Del. Route 299 in Middletown.
Westside employees and board members, health care professionals, and local and state politicians attended the event.
"Westside Family Healthcare is grateful to have the support of our elected officials and the community as we open our doors in Middletown," said Lolita Lopez, President and CEO.
Four years ago Westside opened a facility in Bear in the Fox Run Shopping Center on U.S. Route 40, but there was still a need for low cost primary health care in southern New Castle County, said New Castle County Councilman William Powers (D- Townsend).
Westside received funding for its Middletown location from the Health Resources and Service Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in June 2012.
"We provide cost effective, high value medical care," said Dr. Thomas A. Sweeney, Chairman of the Westside Family Healthcare Board of Directors.
The grant allows the non-profit agency to serve 3,400 additional patients in southern New Castle County and northern Kent County.
Even with the area's population growing, primary healthcare has not been able to keep up, Lopez, a Middletown resident, said.
More than 39,000 people live in southern New Castle County south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and more than 28 percent of residents in the targeted area of Westside's newest facility are living below the federal poverty line.
Lopez said that in the next two years she hopes to have 3,500 patients with the Middletown practice.
Middletown Mayor Ken Branner said that the town began talking with Westside about two years ago.
"They're a wonderful addition to our health services in Middletown," Branner said.
The Christiana Care Freestanding Emergency Center is expected to open in April and is less than a mile from Westside's Middletown clinic, he said.
"We will have a full array of health care," Branner said. "Westside adds to the brightness of our future."
Westside accepts patients who are insured, under insured, and even those who do not have insurance.
This year marked their 24th anniversary.
In 1988 they opened a two room health care center and now they have six health centers across the state, where there are more than 101,000 uninsured Delawareans.
Between its six locations and its mobile health care unit, Westside serviced more than 25,000 patients this year.
Once in full swing, the new facility will create 20 jobs. Lopez anticipates them to be at full capacity within two years.
Westside Family Care will be able to serve patients who would have otherwise inappropriately went to the emergency room, she said. They will also be able to write referrals for people who need to go.
Westside is a Joint Commission Accredited non-profit community health system with locations in Wilmington, Newark, Bear, Middletown, and Dover.