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Katallasso Family Health Center to run on faith to gather funding

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A physician's assistant and a food store manager who also ran a small business are partnering to bring a different kind of health care to York.

Duane Furman, who works for Infection Specialists of Lancaster, and Brian Kreeger, a manager at Giant Food Stores and previous owner of his own tile and grout cleaning company, want to open a clinic that cares for the non- and underinsured. However, they don't plan on treating only physical needs, but also using the clinic as a gateway to building relationships and treating spiritual needs, they said. They named the clinic Katallasso Family Health Center, the first word of which is Greek for "reconciliation."

The funding to open the clinic won't come from state or federal dollars, as would be normal for clinics seeing low-income patients, but rather from people, churches, organizations and businesses who support the mission of the faith-based clinic, they said.

The duo plans to renovate space at 701 W. King St. and hopes to open in the fall. They're working on raising funds for both the construction and ongoing operating expenses.

Kreeger will move his family downtown, take a more than 50 percent salary cut and work a part-time job as he focuses on the center. Furman will continue to work for Infection Specialists, but also will regularly volunteer at the center in York.

Q: Tell me about where the idea to run a nonprofit, faith-based health clinic in York came from?

Furman: We met at our home church (and have) known each other almost 10 years. Brian had talked about his passion for the inner city and wanting to do ministry there. I came up with a thought for him: opening a health clinic in York city. It planted a seed. He really took off with investigating and doing some research, asking, "Is there a need? How could we put that in place?"

Kreeger: We spent six months
determining if there was a need for it. We didn't want to be a bunch of country church people going in to tell (other) people what they need. I contacted community leaders from the mayor's office (and) many different organizations; went to people like the YMCA, community organizations and neighborhood organizations. We talked with the two main health providers — WellSpan Health and Family First Health — they both felt that we had a unique model and a need for that to work alongside of them.

How is the model of care different?

Kreeger: We want to go beyond the care of the physical body because we will be a faith-based clinic. What makes us unique is we want to use the clinic as a vehicle to get to know people and develop solid relationships so that at some point we might be able to help speak into their lives regarding issues that are nonphysical. Mainly we're going to be interacting with those that live in poverty — those that are uninsured or underinsured. The provision of health care to those folks gives us a unique opportunity to help them in ways other than medical.

Furman: From what I see from a provider standpoint, we're limited with the time we can take with patients because of reimbursements. You have to meet with a certain number of patients to keep the lights on and run the office. With the clinic, it won't be about the numbers; a provider can really take the time to sit down and talk and build relationships.

How will the clinic get enough funding to start and continue operations?

Kreeger: At the outset we're going to need a jump-start from the Christian community, the (overarching) church coming together to fund this, not just individual churches. Once we get started and have some ongoing information, then we'll be able to apply for some grants.

Early on, we determined we're not going to become a federally qualified health center — this is about the church coming together. If the church is not able to support this, then we're not going to do it. We do see opportunities for state and local governmental agencies to grant us funds, to come alongside of us. But the primary focus is about the Christian community coming together to make this work. There are other local community agencies that will want to participate as well. This is an opportunity for people that are Christ-followers or believers to put feet to their faith. We have financial needs and needs for expertise and for materials as we renovate our space.

Furman: We liken it to the analogy of missionaries that we may know that serve overseas — they have specific budgets, they have needs that they have to meet. They raise that through support, through people that believe in what they're doing. We'll take that same approach, whether it's through businesses, community members, churches, friends or others that believe in the mission.

Kreeger: Some of it's keeping the budget low; the first year is (set at) $105,000. We're trying to raise between $175,000 to $200,000 to open the clinic, some of that is renovation expenses. It will open with myself as executive director and two part-time administrative positions. We've prepared budgets for three years out based on the clinic we're modeling after, based on real numbers. Our first big seed grant came from a local business owner for $50,000, who wishes to remain anonymous.

How will the clinic operate?

Kreeger: The plan is only to be open 15-20 hours per week. We're asking medical professionals to make a commitment of five hours each month, and hoping some will come along and be able to provide more than that. (We're) looking for about 20 to 30 providers. We have ongoing collaborations with health care providers and insurance companies to work out liability coverage.

How will you sustain the clinic for the long-term?

Furman: I think our expenses from a clinic standpoint probably aren't going to be significant other than keeping it functioning.

Kreeger: We're never going to tell someone it will cost $20 for the visit, but will ask for donations. We're also looking for people to donate not just physical things but their expertise and their talents in order to open us up and keep us running. We're also looking into business sponsorships for specific projects.

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