Inside the Jane Pauley Community Health Center—North Shadeland’s Affordable Care Center

by | Aug 30, 2023

To many people, the American healthcare system is neither healthy, caring, nor much of a system.

But in the North Shadeland area, there are good options for affordable doctor visits and preventive care, including the Jane Pauley Community Health Center in the former Marsh supermarket at 75th Street and Shadeland Avenue. It’s an excellent resource for those who lack health insurance or primary health care.

By almost every measure, Americans are among the least healthy people in the developed world, and among the most likely to die early, as the New York Times put it in an article entitled, “How Do We Fix the Scandal That Is American Health Care?”

We’re not immune in this state: Indiana ranks 43rd in national healthcare rankings compiled by U.S. News & World Report. Cost is a major issue. As Inside Indiana Business reported, 38 percent of Americans said they had put off going to a doctor for financial reasons.

Marc Hackett, CEO of the Jane Pauley Community Health Center, says that besides cost, tobacco use, lack of knowledge about health care options, and inability to access affordable care are other issues.

The non-profit center has 10 locations, including the North Shadeland site. It was founded in 2009 with support from Warren Township schools, where Pauley had attended, and Community Health Network.

Hackett said Community, which has a major hospital just a mile up the road, asked the Jane Pauley Center to investigate the Castleton area.

Dr. Summers examines a patient at the Jane Pauley Center on Shadeland

Jane Pauley Center Provides Affordable Health and More

“The hospital was having challenges getting patients in for primary care visits. It was taking three or four months for a new patient to get in,” he said. “They knew they needed to increase capacity. And a lot of those folks had no insurance or are on Medicaid, so that made sense for us to open shop.”

Dr. Mike Summers, a family physician for 38 years, is one of the clinic’s doctors.

“I really like the mission,” he said. “You’re able to reach a population that has historically struggled with obtaining health care. You leave at the end of the day with a sense that you’ve really been able to help people.”

They’re providing more than strictly medical help: The center has a food pantry and a “community resource navigator” to help patients through the bureaucratic maze of healthcare and government assistance.

Every Patient Matters

Working to help people who really need it feels like a blessing to Twinkle Gujral, who manages the Shadeland facility.

“When patients come in, I’m thinking, ‘That is somebody’s mom, a wife, a sister, a father.’ And so we truly want to take care of their health and wellness.”

Along with blood pressure and the usual vital signs, the center looks at what are called social determinants of health. Patients are asked if they’re able to afford food, transportation, and other necessities. Locating the Shadeland center on a bus line was important for that reason.

On one visit to the Shadeland clinic, Hackett recalls watching as a patient browsed the food pantry, struggling to handle her groceries while holding an infant daughter. A health outreach advocate from the clinic stepped in to hold the baby so the mom could gather the food they needed.

“You have to feel good when you see us helping people like that,” he said–an example of the way health care means caring for people in multiple ways.

Changing Lives Beyond Journalism

Hackett said Jane Pauley recalled in a conversation with him how she was asked to lend her name to the health center.

“She actually broke down as she talked about the difference we’re making in people’s lives.”

Pauley has detailed her struggle with bipolar disorder, which can cause extreme mood swings, including depression, in her 2004 book, “Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue.”

“She’s open about letting people know not to be stereotyped, not to feel bad if you have that condition, because she takes medication and functions fine,” Hackett said. “So that’s the reason why she’s involved. And she just loves seeing the statistics showing how we are changing people’s lives.”

Hackett has told her that 400 people walk through the doors of a Jane Pauley site every day.

“So today, we have 400 chances to change somebody’s life,” he said. “We’re making a difference.”

Twinkle Gujral at the Jane Pauley Community Health Center on Shadeland

A Note from the North Shadeland Alliance Team

The Jane Pauley Community Health Center has been an incredible partner for us as we work to build up our community. In addition to the work they do every day, they have been integral in our ability over the last three months to provide food to our neighbors in need, they host a booth with games and resources at our annual Fall Festival, and are always there when we need them. Twinkle and her team are the best and we appreciate all of their support for our community.

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