High demand for pediatricians sparks innovative scheduling
The high demand for pediatricians in the Siler City area presented a challenge for Siler City Community Health Center. But with a mission of providing health care to medically underserved areas, and a tradition of finding innovative ways to provide high-quality care, administrators at the center were up to the challenge.
The center, located at 224 South 10th Avenue in Siler City, has established a staff schedule that provides patients with pediatric services five days a week, starting at 8 a.m. and running as late as 8 p.m. on Thursdays.
The services are provided by three doctors – Kelly Kimple, Neal deJong and Charles Wood. The trio got their medical training at the University of North Carolina, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Texas, respectively.
All three doctors are affiliated with UNC pediatric services and divide their time between there and Siler City. Dr. Kimple is working with UNC Medical Legal Partnership regarding screening for social determinants of care, Dr. deJong studies complex care and palliative care and Dr. Wood works on childhood obesity research.
Helen Mikul, lead provider for the Siler City Community Health Center, said the center’s pediatric care began about a year ago when Dr. Kimple came on board. Administrators added doctors as the pediatric patient load grew, Mikul said.
“There were more and more people who wanted care, and now we have it every day,” Mikul said. “The patients are loving it and the pediatricians are loving it. It’s a great addition to our services.”
The center now sees about 20 pediatric patients each day, with the exception of Friday when it closes at noon – on that day, the center sees about a dozen patients, she said.
Siler City is one of 10 community health centers in central North Carolina operated by the Carrboro-based Piedmont Health. A 45-year-old organization, Piedmont Health is dedicated to providing high-quality, affordable care, to serving medically underserved communities and to helping change the lives of its patients, whether through medical services, dental care, on-site pharmacy, nutrition counseling or disease management.
Piedmont especially strives to serve vulnerable populations – for instance, through its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, the organization helps families who, more than ever, are finding it hard to put healthy food on their dinner tables. A lack of good nutrition can put young children at risk for health problems and problems in school. WIC helps families meet the nutritional needs of pregnant and post-partum women, infants and children up to age 5 through nutrition education and counseling, breastfeeding promotion and support, and supplemental foods and referrals.
“WIC is so much more than people realize,” said Ashley Brewer, WIC Director. “The nutrition education and healthy foods that WIC provides really give children a healthy start in life, which is so important.”
Like all of Piedmont’s health centers, Siler City charges for most services on a sliding-scale basis, with fees based on income. The center also aims to serve the unique needs of the community; for instance, all three of the pediatric doctors speak Spanish.
Kimple confirms that the pediatric doctors have found a home at the center. “I genuinely enjoy my time in Siler City and getting to know the community, the families and individual patients as a whole,” she said. “I strive to serve and advocate for those who face language or other barriers and to make a difference in their lives along the way.”
The Siler City Community Health Center is accepting new pediatric patients. To learn more about the center, visit www.piedmonthealth.org (click on “locations,” then “Siler City”) or call 919-663-174 for pediatric, WIC and other services . If you live closer to Moncure, visit the Moncure Community Health Center, at 7228 Pittsboro-Moncure Road. To reach that center, call 919-542-4991. If you live closer to Snow Camp, visit the Sylvan Community Health Center on the Sylvan Elementary School campus. To make a medical appointment, please call 336-506-0631.