MONON, Ind. (WLFI) - The Monon Health Clinic is celebrating one year of helping the community in its new location. Monon has had a health clinic since 2006, but it used to be in an old insurance building that made addressing the needs of the community difficult.
"Even though everything was kind of crammed into one space, the clinic did miracles," said Yadira Santiago, one of three nurse practitioners at the clinic.
The old clinic facility only had two exam rooms. Santiago worked in both the old building and the new building. She first worked in Monon during nursing school and fell in love. She went to graduate school at Purdue and again worked in Monon. Now she works in the small town full time.
"We didn't really have separated spaces for a lab room, for a break room, for a wait area," she said. It was time for a much-needed upgrade.
This is where the Brown family stepped in. The family has been based in Monon since John G. Brown first moved to Indiana from Illinois for cheaper farming land near the turn of the century.
"He was helping a farmer with a planter. He followed it as they planted corn and every time he would have to step on the grain of corn to put it in the ground," said his grandson, Larry Brown. "He got 50 cents a day for that work."
John Brown went on to have a grand career. He was a farmer, a member of the Indiana House of Representatives, the first president of Indiana Farm Bureau, a co-founder of Purdue Extension and he was an assistant agriculture secretary for the Herbet Hoover Administration.
Larry fondly remembered driving around with his grandpa and grandma to different farms in the area when he was a young boy, and his grandpa would treat him to an ice cream cone.
"He never met a stranger," said Larry. He said his grandfather was also very involved in the local and county communities. Which is why the family decided to donate three acres of land on State Road 16 to the new health clinic.
"We thought it would be a tribute to him to have his name on the new health clinic," he said.
The John G. Brown Family Health Clinic opened its doors in August of 2018 with six exam rooms, a pharmacy and their own lab. Antoinette Valle said they have seen a growth in patients since moving to the new facility.
"We have actually over 8,000 patients, but we've touched base with them over 21,000 times," she said. "So it's grown over the years."
They have also been able to extend their hours. Now they are open Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The clinic helps people with and without insurance. Valle is an Outreach and Enrollment Specialist. It's her job to help those navigate the sometimes tricky waters of insurance.
"You leave work every day feeling like you've made a difference," she replied when asked why work in a small town like Monon compared to an energetic city like Chicago or Indianapolis.
For them, it's all about helping every generation that walks through their doors.
"I love being able to see the grandparents, seeing the moms, seeing the kiddos which usually ends up happening," said Santiago. "If I see one, I usually end up seeing the whole family shortly after which is really cool."
The nearest health care facilities are in Rensselaer, Monticello, Lafayette or Logansport. Valle said it's important for people in rural, underserved communities to have easy access to health care.
"Families come walking here so I feel like to have to drive 45 minutes or more to get health care, that's time out of work time out of school and we have the school right next door," she said, North White High School is just up the road from the clinic. "That saves families so much time and money."
Valle estimated that 75% of the population they see is Hispanic. All the signs in the clinic are in both English and Spanish, and she said being able to speak the language is crucial to their work.
"Our community is becoming quite Hispanic and they are good neighbors," said Brown. "We wanted to do something that touches a large group of people."
They have gotten positive feedback from patients about the quality of the new building. Those at the clinic are grateful for the generosity of the Brown family.
"They believe in this community, they've lived here, they grew up here, they made their foundation here and they want to see the community thrive and be healthy and happy," said Valle.