ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) --  A new grant will help provide a new place for families in Chemung and Schuyler Counties to receive preventive health screenings.

The Elmira Economic Opportunity Program, Inc. was recently awarded a three-year Member and Community Health Improvement grant from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield to add a new Community Health Clinic at its location on 650 Baldwin Street in Elmira.

The clinic will offer diabetes, lead and behavioral health screenings to the community.

“The community health clinic located at EOP aims to improve population health by offering necessary health screenings to community residents that will address various health and social needs,” states Andrea Ogunwumi, CEO, Economic Opportunity Program, Inc. “This community health center became a reality through a collaborative partnership with Arnot Health, the Chemung County Health Department, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM).”

The clinic will be staffed by LECOM medical students with oversight by Family Medicine residents and an attending physician. LECOM students will help those requiring primary care follow-ups with primary care physician appointments at the time of screenings. Arnot Health will provide lab screening services for the clinic.

The community health clinic will open to the public in April 2022 and will be implemented in three different phases. Phase one includes on-site lead screenings for children; phase two will include mental health screening services for adults using the PHQ-2 screening tool; phase three will include diabetes hemoglobin A1c testing and blood pressure screening for adults.

“Providing access to high-quality health care for people who need it is core to our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” said Jessica Renner, regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “We are excited to be a part of this collaborative effort because it shares our commitment to improving the health or health care of residents in our community.”

Efforts to provide better access to preventive care in the area started in 2016, when Common Ground Health brought together the Central Southern Tier Health Alliance. That organization is made up of health, business, nonprofit, government and community leaders in Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben Counties with the goal of “collaborating and converging existing and new efforts to improve the health of the population”.

Recently, the alliance and Common Ground Health published a Rapid Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in 2019 looking at the health impacts of substandard housing conditions in the City of Elmira. That HIA made several recommendations to address housing-related health disparities in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lead exposure experienced by residents of Elmira’s census tracts 6 and 7. One of the recommendations was expanded health screening services.