BY ROY HARRYMAN
This article originally appeared in The Kansas City Star.
Wyandotte County kids will get greater access to health care with the opening of a new clinic named for a longtime civic leader.
Children’s Mercy West/The Cordell Meeks Jr. Clinic opens Monday, Aug. 13, at 4313 State Ave., one block east of I-635.
The new 17,500-square-foot-facility is nearly three times the size of the Children’s Mercy clinic it replaced at 4517 Troup. In addition, the number of pediatricians on staff will increase from three to five. The facility has a pharmacy, radiology department and lab.
The clinic, which serves newborns through 17 year olds, will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Appointments are required.
“By us having more doctors it will make us in a sense a lot more accessible,” said Dr. David Porter, who opened his original practice in Kansas City, Kan., in 1969. The clinic books more than 17,000 patient visits per year.
Porter’s practice, which has included his colleague, Dr. Stephen Schaum, for more than three decades, is caring for a second generation of children.
“We’ve had a lot of people and families and feel we have been very dedicated to the care of the patient,” Porter said. “We had a lot of patients who have felt comfortable with us.”
Porter said the practice is not exclusively for low-income families, but serves all, regardless of their ability to pay. That was his philosophy before affiliating with Children’s Mercy.
“We’re dedicated to all classes of people,” he said. “People do trust us, believe in us and continue to come.”
Schaum said the clinic’s expansion is significant because urban Wyandotte County draws few new doctors.
“This part of the city hasn’t been a particularly popular area for physicians to come to,” he said.
It’s not as lucrative as other communities because many patients are uninsured or pay doctors through Medicaid. But Schaum has no regrets about caring for the community’s children: “It’s been rewarding.”
Joe Connor, director of the Health Department of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, welcomes the new clinic.
“It’s been identified that there is a lack of basic health care services in urban Wyandotte County,” he said.
“I’m really excited about that Children’s Mercy clinic being open.”
The clinic does not yet have urgent care hours or specialists on staff. But Schaum said the size of the new facility provides a “hint” that those services may be provided in the future.
Jessica Salazar, a Children’s Mercy spokeswoman, said there are no plans at present to add those services.
The clinic is named after the late Wyandotte County District Court judge and community advocate Cordell Meeks Jr., who also served on the board of Children’s Mercy Hospital.
His son, Cordell Meeks III, said his family is honored by the designation.
“It’s such an honor it’s hard for me to explain in words what it means,” he said.