PANHANDLE, Texas, April 1, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rural healthcare has always been one of Holly Jeffreys' passions. Through her job as program director for the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU), she helped place nursing students in jobs in rural communities.
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But there was always one area that could never retain nurses – the city of Panhandle, Texas. After meeting with the Economic Development Corporation for the city of Panhandle and seeing the need for a health care clinic, Ms. Jeffreys developed a plan to operate a clinic in the area using WTAMU nursing students and resources. After months of research and preparation, the plan was not adopted, but Ms. Jeffreys felt such a connection to the people in Panhandle that she decided to take on the task of opening a clinic herself.
"I thought, 'What if I established this clinic, put students out there to teach, and I could still continue teaching?'" Ms. Jeffreys said.
In 2009, with the help of her office manager, she launched the clinic in a 1,200-square foot building she leased in Panhandle. By 2012, her staff had grown to nine employees, and the clinic had amassed 6,000 patients, quickly outgrowing the building.
Ms. Jeffreys reinvested everything she could into the clinic, and was able to start construction on a new building. In January 2013, Panhandle Family Care Clinic opened in its own, newly constructed, 7,500-square-foot building off Highway 60 East in Panhandle. The new facility has two waiting areas, eight exam rooms, a nursing/work station area, an allergy clinic, lab area, and even a workout center.
The clinic also had a large room for XRay and telemedicine. Unfortunately, Ms. Jeffreys had invested so much into the building that there weren't any funds for an XRay machine.
"If someone needed an Xray they would go to the vet," Ms. Jeffreys said. "The expense of the building was enough that we couldn't afford those extra things until we had more money."
That's where a program through Happy State Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) came in handy.
With the assistance of a small business loan from Happy State Bank, which was funded by a low-cost Economic Development Program (EDP) advance from FHLB Dallas, and a $25,000 EDPPlus grant from FHLB Dallas, the clinic was able to purchase an XRay machine and other equipment.
EDPPlus grants are noncompetitive and available on a first-come, first-served basis to promote and enhance small business development and job creation. In 2013, FHLB Dallas made $1 million in EDPPlus grant funds available through member institutions.
Without the grant funds, the cost of the XRay machine would have pushed her loan over her maximum budget, Ms. Jeffreys said.
"When we found out we could get the grant it was a huge deal. It's been a huge blessing," she said. "We couldn't have gotten the XRay machine without it. This was a really big project for us."
Now, residents of Panhandle who previously traveled 40 miles to Amarillo, Texas, to visit a clinic – or even worse, ignored their health care needs – have somewhere local where they can be seen by doctors.
"A lot of older people live in rural areas. Some would never go to Amarillo for care. They weren't going anywhere," Ms. Jeffreys said. "A lot of our patients have pretty serious health conditions and they were not seeking treatment."
Brady Shadid, president of the Panhandle branch of Happy State Bank, said his bank was happy to help Ms. Jeffreys with the project.
"Not only is she a good customer of the bank, the clinic has been good for our community as a whole and the surrounding communities, as it pulls patients from Claude and other small cities, and even Amarillo," Mr. Shadid said. "I always knew that Ms. Jeffreys would do better than she had projected."
The clinic also meant new construction.
"It's a beautiful building. That's something we haven't had in town for a long time – new commercial construction on the highway where everybody can see it," Mr. Shadid said. "It's good publicity for the city and good service."
In addition, the clinic has created jobs for the city. Currently, the clinic has 11 full-time employees and sees more than 200 patients a week.
"All in all ever since the clinic opened in this town, it's been a benefit to this community. It's drawing other businesses to the community," Mr. Shadid said.
Happy State Bank has used the EDP advance and EDPPlus grants for other customers, and it sees the program as a valuable tool for its small business customers.
"It is a great program," Mr. Shadid said. "It gives someone who is staring at a huge financial investment the added benefit of some additional backing from the grant and the financial institution. This program gives businesses not only financial support, but also emotional support because they see the support for their business not only from us going to bat for them, but also from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas. That just gives them the support to get going."
About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 12 district banks in the FHLBank System created by Congress in 1932. FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $30.2 billion as of December 31, 2013, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to approximately 900 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. For more information, visit the FHLB Dallas website at fhlb.com.
The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.
CONTACT: Corporate Communications Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas www.fhlb.com (214) 441-8445
Source:Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas