UNC Children’s relocates primary care services through generosity of Carolina For The Kids

Through the generosity of the Carolina For The Kids Foundation, the UNC Department of Pediatrics opened the UNC Children’s Primary Care Clinic on E. Franklin Street on July 13. The new clinic puts UNC’s general pediatric care in easier reach for patients and families and enables the expansion of pediatric specialty clinics at N.C. Children’s Hospital.

UNC Children’s relocates primary care services through generosity of Carolina For The Kids click to enlarge The new UNC Children's Primary Care Clinic is located in Suite 100 of the Franklin Park building.
UNC Children’s relocates primary care services through generosity of Carolina For The Kids click to enlarge The new clinic features 11 bright, sunlit rooms, plus a dedicated lactation consulting suite.

Written in collaboration with Haley Waxman, 2016 publicity chair of the Carolina For The Kids Foundation

On Monday, July 13, the UNC Department of Pediatrics opened the UNC Children’s Primary Care Clinic, located at 1512 E. Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. The clinic, made possible by a $2.5 million gift from the Carolina For The Kids Foundation, relocates UNC’s general pediatric and adolescent outpatient care from N.C. Children’s Hospital to a location off the UNC medical campus. 

“Our new pediatric primary care clinic provides easy access and a welcoming, private practice-like environment, which our general pediatrics patients and their families are sure to appreciate,” says Ian Buchanan, MD, UNC Health Care’s vice president of cancer and children's services, explaining key benefits behind the new off-site clinic. “And by moving primary care out of the Children’s Hospital’s outpatient clinic, we have the added benefit of freeing up space within the hospital to expand our pediatric specialty clinics and better meet the needs of our chronically ill patients.”

The UNC Children’s Primary Care Clinic features:

  • Free and closer parking
  • Access to Chapel Hill’s free bus line
  • Spanish interpreter in clinic
  • Dedicated lactation specialist and consulting suite
  • Nearby pharmacy and radiology services

Unexpected beginnings

It’s hard to imagine, but the clinic began as an idea jotted down in a busy UNC student’s agenda. That student, Liz Goslin, was the 2014 executive director of Carolina For The Kids, the largest student-run philanthropy in North Carolina, working year-round to raise money to support the patients and families of UNC Children’s.

Liz says the idea for the clinic came about in summer 2013 as part of a conversation about the strategic direction for the future of the organization.

“The original motivation was to find an innovative project that would be a huge benefit to the communities we serve,” recalls Liz. “It’s been exciting seeing [the clinic] go from being an idea on a post-it note in my agenda to a tangible, real project with a ton of support and energy behind it that is truly going to serve thousands of families around the state.”

Liz graduated from UNC in 2014, but her successors and the rest of CFTK carried the initiative forward and formally announced plans for the new clinic  at the Kilometers For The Kids 5K last November. CFTK’s 2016 executive director, Meagan Barger, says the project has since transformed the conversation around the group’s efforts.

“Through our commitment to this project, we have adopted a ‘clinic first’ approach for our organization, meaning that when we tell people what CFTK does, we can start by talking about our biggest project — building the clinic,” explains Barger. “This is a special project for CFTK, because it will be the first tangible project funded completely on our own.”

The clinic on E. Franklin Street is an interim space for the UNC Children’s Primary Care Clinic while UNC Health Care System leaders work with CFTK to develop plans for a permanent location in the coming months.

“While we are operating out of our temporary space this year, we will be working collaboratively with CFTK to identify and purchase a suitable parcel of land for the permanent clinic,” says Dr. Buchanan. “The path to construction of new healthcare facilities is long and complicated, but the end result will be a fabulous, modern clinic for our patients.”

Diane Howell, MD, medical director of the new clinic, says the move to the interim location will give the team insights into how to best design and optimize the future clinic in collaboration with CFTK.

“We will be looking for the partnership [with CFTK] to start some new innovative programs in the temporary clinic so, when the permanent structure is built, we can move there without missing a beat,” says Howell.

Michael Steiner, MD, UNC’s chief of general pediatrics, adds that the new clinic is a transformational project for UNC Children’s.

“First of all, it provides a new home for primary care of children from the central area of North Carolina,” says Steiner. “Often, those children who come (to the clinic) from far away have very complex or difficult conditions that local medical providers do not feel comfortable treating. Since about a quarter of the counties in North Carolina don’t have pediatricians, some children with complex illnesses need to travel long distances for care.”

Moving the clinic offsite from the Children’s Hospital location also creates much-needed space for expanded outpatient specialty care at the hospital.

“By allowing enough space for subspecialists to work at the tertiary care hospital, while simultaneously moving primary care to an easier-to-access and more family-friendly location, we will dramatically change the face of outpatient care at North Carolina Children’s Hospital,” adds Steiner.

Dr. Steiner says he hopes supporters of Carolina For The Kids and UNC Children’s understand the importance of the endeavor.

“This new clinic will create a cutting-edge program that gives families and children with complex medical illnesses and other challenges what they need and deserve,” says Steiner. “The vision of CFTK to recognize this and lead the development of this is unprecedented and will have an effect on children’s health that we expect to last for generations.”

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