Isabella Citizens for Health expands health access in Mt. Pleasant and rural mid-Michigan

Isabella Citizens for Health is doubling the size of its Mt. Pleasant health facility this February, bringing their operating building footprint to 56,000 square feet. The health center has been actively hiring new staff to accommodate the growing space and growing patient demand for services.

What began over ten years ago with the support of McLaren Central Michigan for their startup, the health center started with one family practice physician, one medical assistant, one receptionist, and Jennifer White, the chief executive officer at Isabella Citizens for Health

Today, the health center has over 100 employees. 

“It’s kind of a Cinderella story, when you think about it,” shares White of their growth. “We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3); we have our own board. We are an independent organization, so we are not part of any hospital.”

“Our mission is to make sure everyone has primary health care regardless of their age or their insurance status,” she says.

Isabella Citizens for Health takes most health insurances as well as offers a sliding fee scale program for payments, based on household size for uninsured or underinsured patients. 

Striving to be a medical home for their patients, being able to provide both medical care and mental health care is a priority for Isabella Citizens for Health. 

“Our model is integrated medical and mental health care,” explains White. “It is integrated truly within the practices. When our patients come in and they're seeing a medical provider or a mental health care provider, they take the same pathway—they check into the same window.” 

“That was designed intentionally to take away stigma, and to get the mental health and the medical care providers to work together more closely,” she continues. “The traditional model is that mental health care is located somewhere outside of your primary care office. We have combined that.”

In fact, the building was specifically built for this level of care, including the capacity to host an on-site pharmacy and an on-site lab, making it as White calls it, a “one-stop shop for what most people need in an outpatient setting.” 

“When a patient comes in—they have an order for a lab—they can have that done before they leave,” says White. “And if they have a prescription that they need to pick up, then they can do that as well.”

“We know some of our patients have transportation issues, and for compliance and for being efficient, putting those services all under one roof has really been wonderful for patients—and for providers, who are hoping that their patients do follow the orders and take their prescriptions and get their testing done.” 

“In a rural community, that is so unique because oftentimes, you do not have that; you have 60 miles or 45 miles sometimes to receive these services,” she expresses.

Patients from Clare, Mecosta, Gratiot and Isabella counties made up over 50,000 visits to Isabella Citizens for Health in 2023 alone. 

Besides their Mt. Pleasant facility, the health center also offers outpatient therapy in 11 different schools in Gratiot County and Isabella County—making their behavioral health program much larger than it is just on-site. 

Isabella Citizens for Health outpatient therapists work with students, parents, and school staff to help students work through emotional difficulties at Alma Middle School and High School, St. Louis Middle School and High School, Ashley Community Schools, Mt. Pleasant Middle School and High School, Renaissance Public School Academy, and Fulton Middle/High School. 

“We partnered with the RESD to partner with each of these schools and provide a therapist, so it's really our service in the school. It's not a school service,” shares White. “It's located there for the convenience of parents so that they can have outpatient therapy services without having to miss too much class; parents don't have to leave work to run them to and from appointments.” 

“We know mental health with our children has been a hot topic across the country and it's been suffering,” she continues, noting they anticipate these services being utilized in the school setting will reach about 7,000 outpatient sessions at the end of the school year.

New construction of the Isabella Citizens for Health facility located in Mt. Pleasant. Photo courtesy Isabella Citizens for Health
The Isabella Citizens for Health care team originally moved into the new building located at 2790 Health Parkway in Mt. Pleasant in November 2019, occupying 60% of the building when they moved in. 

During the pandemic, they became well-known throughout the community as being a COVID site, and awareness of their capabilities grew. 

“We were using every exam room—every space in our new facility was being occupied and utilized,” remembers White. “So we knew that we had to get started on this new addition.”

By 2022, the plans for the expansion progressed, and construction took place throughout 2023. The goal is for their Mt. Pleasant expansion to be completed in February 2024.

However this is not the only expansion in the works for Isabella Citizens for Health.

“We are building what I call a mini version of our health center in Farwell in Clare County,” shares White of the current construction taking place. “We hope to be open in the fall of 2024.” 

“It's primary care for all ages, with integrated behavioral health (which is our therapy services), on-site pharmacy, and on-site lab. Again, like that one-stop shop, just smaller,” White says.
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Read more articles by Courtney Jerome.

With 15 years of professional media experience, Courtney Jerome has found a passion for storytelling and showcasing our region in a positive light. She's written stories for television broadcasts, numerous magazines, and digital publications. In addition, she owns a boutique creative marketing agency that focuses on social media, photo, and video storytelling for small businesses across Michigan and the country — Contact Courtney, the managing editor of Epicenter, at