Community leaders in Winnebago have long recognized the importance of the three Ds to a community’s ability to thrive.
The three Ds stand for three important services: a doctor, a dentist and medicine – or, in other words, a pharmacy.
Late last year, at a meeting held Nov. 3, the Winnebago Economic Development Authority (EDA) designated the search for a doctor, dentist, and pharmacy — as well than a lawyer – as a “high priority” item. for the future development of Winnebago.
“All these things are important” said Mayor Scott Robertson, adding that he would especially like to see a doctor and pharmacy come to the community.
In response to EDA’s concerns, a few community members formed a task force to identify concrete steps to address the issue.
The resulting Healthcare Recruitment Task Force is a group of Winnebago stakeholders and healthcare business owners who meet semi-occasionally to discuss resources to bring in services. healthcare in Winnebago.
“Our long-term goals are to explore ways to bring health care to Winnebago for the longevity of our community and residents,” Winnebago EDA Specialist Angie Stier summarizes.
“Our main focus at this stage is pharmaceuticals and medical,”She adds. “Dental, we’ll investigate a bit further as we go along.”
Stier says the group has met three times since last December.
Concerns in Winnebago about the lack of health care options in the area have been prompted by the temporary closure of the clinic operated by the United Hospital District (UHD) of Winnebago.
“There is huge demand since UHD does not operate in Winnebago that we have a similar care service that residents can participate in,”Steve explains.
The city still hopes to remain in discussion with UHD in the event that the clinic’s Winnebago location can be reopened.
At its Nov. 3 meeting, the Winnebago EDA identified UHD’s support in reopening the Winnebago clinic as “obviously a high priority.”
However, six months later, observes Stier, “They (the clinic) still haven’t opened. If they arrive, so much the better. If they don’t, we need to check other options.
The Healthcare Recruitment Task Force already has several ideas on the table.
Stier says the group has already had discussions with a company of medical professionals about setting up a satellite location somewhere in town. The process would involve identifying the best location for satellite health services and finding funding for any necessary equipment.
The Healthcare Recruitment Task Force also discussed the feasibility of acquiring telepharmacy services in Winnebago with Sterling Drug, a company that provides pharmacy services in Fairmont.
Regarding the establishment of a pharmacy in Winnebago, notes Stier, “There is an area around the corner from the grocery store created with this specific intent.”
These discussions, of course, are only the first steps towards the group’s larger goals for the future.
“The key is honestly to involve everyone”,Steve explains.
She says the group wants to make sure its efforts don’t interfere with local services already offered in the Winnebago area.
Currently, the community has one optometrist – Brett Johnson – and Winnebago Chiropractic. Parker Oaks Senior Living also offers health care services.
Overall, the Healthcare Recruitment Task Force recognizes the vital role medical, pharmaceutical and dental services play in the success of a community.
Stier notes the inconvenience experienced by residents of small towns when they have to travel for health services.
“A lot of these people may not have two cars to take to a doctor’s appointment while someone is working,”she considers. “Or, older residents aren’t comfortable driving.”
Stier concludes, “We’re trying to adapt to staying local, keeping our money local, and bringing businesses to the area that could do some good.”
She adds, “It’s an ongoing conversation. Investigate, discuss, reach out – it takes time.