Melissa Tacchi, For The Miami Student

The Butler County Community Health Consortium (BCCHC) has constructed a new building with a more self-explanatory name, Primary Health Solutions.

“We wanted to erase the picture of being a county organization,” Dena Sherron, administrative assistant for BCCHC, said. “The name change was to give people a better understanding of what the true function is.”

The Hamilton West Office, 903 NW Washington Blvd., opened April 8 and will continue to serve Butler County’s uninsured or underinsured patients in need of medical or dental care.

The new office, federally funded with a grant of $560,000, is equipped with 15 exam rooms and labs, making it the largest of the Primary Health Solution branches. The recent expansion in Hamilton was in response to an increased need for pediatric care. In early March 2009, Drs. Scott and Mark Blankenburg, brothers and pediatricians, were forced to close their practices and were sentenced to 13 years in prison because of child molestation charges, Sherron said. As a result, the need for pediatric care intensified, as Butler County Medicaid patients, primarily in Hamilton, lost their family pediatricians.

The BCCHC acknowledged that “no one wanted Medicaid patients and there was a need to provide them service,” according to Sherron.

“Since the close, we saw an increase in calls from patients looking for a place for their children to be cared for that accepted Medicaid,” said Marc Bellisario, chief executive officer of Primary Health Solutions. “We currently have one pediatrician working in the new West office, but we are hoping to add a second by the fall depending on patient demand.”

In addition to previously available medical and dental care, the West Office will provide women, infant and child (WIC) services.

WIC services allow pregnant women to meet with a dietician before delivery for nutritional needs including groceries provided by funding.

According to Bellisario, after an infant is born, the funds may continue to serve the newborn’s nutritional needs as well as provide a lactrician specialist to encourage and assist breast-feeding mothers.

“Ultimately, we would like to have an obstetrician program,” Bellisario said.

Last year approximately 10,800 patients registered for BCCHC care, but with the opening of the new office, Bellisario is predicting a few thousand more. In hopes of assisting many people in need, Primary Health Solutions may implement an additional family practice in a previously existing Hamilton office.

“I am concerned as a potential future doctor that Primary Health Solutions may have difficulty finding doctors that would be willing to work for a federally funded organization,” said Miami University sophomore Thiennga Pham. “I feel that the pay may not be as sufficient as if someone were to open their own private practice.”

Bellisario said Primary Health Solutions tries to stay as competitive as possible.

“Everybody is struggling because most doctors out of school go toward specialty,” Bellisario said. “There aren’t enough family practitioners to go around.”

Administrators emphasized that Primary Health Solutions is not a free or walk-in clinic. Patients will only be seen after making an appointment, and if a patient is not in need of immediate medical care it may take up to four to six weeks to see a doctor.