photo by: Mike Yoder
It makes sense that the largest piece of art in the new medical clinic for Heartland Community Health Center features hands.
It is an approximately 40-foot-long mural by local artist Stephen T. Johnson that depicts a line of diverse hands spelling out the word “Heartland” in American Sign Language.
Heartland is nothing if not about hands. The nonprofit’s mission involves providing a helping hand to people who can’t afford quality health care.
“If we weren’t here, I’m not sure where some people would go,” said Julie Branstrom, chief development officer, for Heartland Community Health Center. “A lot of them would end up in the emergency room because they would be worried about being denied care somewhere else.”
So, it is not hard to understand why Branstrom was drawn to the idea of a piece of artwork featuring hands of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors being a centerpiece of Heartland’s vastly updated and expanded home at 1312 W. Sixth Street in central Lawrence.
“I wanted a piece of art where everybody could feel like they could see themselves in it,” she said.
But you also could understand why the center could have also added one other piece of famous hand art: The old Uncle Sam poster with the most famous of pointing fingers and the message “We Want You.”
Heartland didn’t hang that art on the wall, but the center definitely does want a new batch of patients to come to the new location. A key part of the moving project — which completely remodeled the former Anderson Rentals building at Sixth and Michigan streets — was to present a new image of Heartland that made it clear the center wasn’t just for the uninsured but rather was for everybody in the community.
“I hope this facility will lend confidence to patients who have insurance to know that they can be our patients too,” Branstrom said of the facility, which opened last week.
Instead of an old poster, though, Heartland thought it could be more convincing with a lot of brand new things. Those include an 80-seat waiting room that features a modern check-in desk, plus self-service kiosks, if you don’t feel like interacting with a person upon arrival. It includes 36 primary care exam rooms — a more than 100% increase from Heartland’s former location — equipped with everything from video screens to state-of-the-art electric lift examination tables. And the location also features a large parking lot, which visitors to the center’s former location near perennially-congested LMH Health can appreciate.
All that hopefully paints a powerful picture to new patients, Branstrom said.
“I think what patients are going to notice first when they walk in is a beautiful, new, state-of-the art facility,” she said.
That hasn’t ever been the case at Heartland’s previous location at 346 Maine St. Branstrom said the offices were worn and contributed to the image that Heartland wasn’t a medical center for everyone.
“I think that is one of the obstacles we really have to overcome,” she said. “It already is hard enough when you have the image that Heartland …….