After scaling back services over the summer, a community health center that was a Minneapolis mainstay for decades is closing for good.
The Neighborhood Involvement Program saw the last of its patients this week. It said that its base of largely uninsured clients dropped significantly after the federal health care overhaul.
The agency relied on a mix of paid staff and volunteers to provide low-cost care, and “was not set up to serve those with insurance,” CEO Patsy Bartley said in a notice on the nonprofit’s website.
Staying open “became too financially challenging” because of other changes required to meet the Affordable Care Act’s regulations, she said.
The Neighborhood Involvement Program, has offered care for patients at 24th Street and Hennepin Avenue S. since 1972 and serves about 8,000 patients a year. After financial problems mounted in recent years, the organization ended medical services in August but continued seeing patients for dental and mental health care.
“I think it’s a good thing that people are able to go elsewhere … but it’s awful for the staff who have been there for so long,” longtime patient Kelsey Weitzel said at the time. “It’s a loss of community.”
The program employed fewer than 50 paid staffers and had more than 2,100 volunteers. A purchase agreement is in place for the building.
Some patients won’t see major disruptions. Mental health patients are being directed to Walk-In Counseling Center at 24th and Chicago Avenue S.
National Involvement Program’s services for rape and sexual abuse survivors will fold into Cornerstone, a violence-prevention organization in Bloomington.
Cornerstone is leasing space out of Neighborhood Involvement Program’s old building and will bring on some of its old staff.
The program’s “focus has really been on the individuals that need services and trying to do everything that they can to make sure those things continue,” said Meg Schnabel, Cornerstone’s executive director.
The nonprofit is shifting its services for the elderly into Senior Community Services in Minnetonka. The organization will take over programs to do lawn mowing, snow removal, and various household chores for seniors, and use many of the same volunteers.
Still, services for youths and families, along with dental patients, are ending entirely.