Southeast Austin health clinic opens, with a focus on wellness


Visitors pass a vegetable, herb and flower garden and enter a sleek, modern lobby lit by clear globes hanging from the ceiling and sunshine streaming through doors and windows. Bright, photographic murals adorn the walls, depicting scenes from nearby neighborhoods. It’s clear this isn’t your typical public health clinic.

Central Health officials say their newest clinic — which includes the education garden out front, a kitchen for cooking classes, a large meeting room for the public, free exercise classes and a kids’ playscape — is the one-stop shop residents asked for, not just for treating the sick but for keeping folks healthy.

But you can see for yourself. On Saturday, there will be an open house with music and food, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Southeast Health and Wellness Center, 2901 Montopolis Drive.

After opening in October 2014 upon completion of its first phase, the center is now twice as big and fully built-out, with nearly 74,000 square feet of clinic and community space. A budget of $27.7 million covered the land and renovation costs, including new square footage for mechanical equipment.

“What’s so good about it is I can get everything I need in one place,” said Carlos Palacios, who is 57 and receives primary care, help with depression, specialty care for diabetes and dental services at the center.

“I got my teeth here,” he said, showing off new dentures. “I can eat solid food again. … Everybody has treated me so nice here.”

Dr. Susan Dubois, an endocrinologist who treats diabetics, said she has worked for Central Health’s affiliated CommUnityCare clinics since 2009 and is thrilled to be at the Southeast center. “This is fabulous, a dream come true,” she said.

Patients can access on-site imaging services, including mammograms, as well as a pharmacy, laboratory, hearing tests and pregnancy education as well as classes for learning how to cook healthy meals, grow food and manage diabetes with the aid of nutritionists. They can get same-day appointments when they’re sick and don’t have to travel to other sign-up locations if they become eligible for a different kind of coverage, Dubois said.

Ofelia Zapata, a board member with Austin Interfaith, said she started pressing for a comprehensive health center in her Dove Springs neighborhood in the 1990s. After voters created Central Health in 2004, officials there responded to Zapata and others by opening an urgent care center on William Cannon Drive in 2009. That was “a Band-Aid,” Zapata said.

A fight ensued, she said, and now she’s elated. Although the new facility isn’t in Dove Springs, it’s close by, she said.

“We are finally getting that holistic health care facility we wanted,” Zapata said. “I’m in awe about it. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful.”

Officials expect 80,000 patient visits this year, mainly from low-income or uninsured residents of Dove Springs, Montopolis and Del Valle.

University of Texas Dell Medical School students and new doctors will train at the center on ways to better coordinate care and make it more cost-efficient.

Once the home of a veterans’ clinic, Central Health bought the property in 2011 for $8 million, estimating renovation costs at $2 million. Officials later learned they had to gut the building, dramatically raising the cost.

It is now CommUnityCare’s largest facility, with 45,000 square feet of clinical space and the rest for other services, including the Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, nutrition program.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Multiple fire departments working to contain wildfire north of Burnet
Multiple fire departments working to contain wildfire north of Burnet

Burnet County sheriff’s office officials said Sunday night a wildfire estimated to be about 500 acres mostly across ranch land is being worked on by multiple fire departments. The officials said no evacuations were being made, but that they would be issued via reverse 911 if warranted. The wildfire was west of County Road 108 and north of Burnet...
Lakeway police: Mom in hot car charged with child endangerment
Lakeway police: Mom in hot car charged with child endangerment

A Lakeway woman was arrested Saturday on charges of abandoning or endangering a child after police say she refused to roll down the windows in 104-degree heat. Adriane Grace Moss, 34, was found in her car with her 10-year-old son after he called 911, saying he had woken up in the car and had been there for about an hour. Police said Moss refused to...
Three bodies recovered after San Marcos apartment fire
Three bodies recovered after San Marcos apartment fire

Fire investigators recovered three bodies Sunday from the rubble of a fire that broke out early Friday at the Iconic Village and Vintage Pads apartments, San Marcos city officials said. All three people were pronounced dead at the scene, officials said, and their bodies have been taken to the Travis County medical examiner’s office for autopsy...
Texas Digest: Dallas man convicted for Islamic State revenge slaying

DALLAS Man convicted for revenge slaying A 33-year-old man is facing up to life in prison after a Dallas jury convicted him of a slaying prosecutors said was intended as revenge for Islamic State-linked shootings in Garland and San Bernardino, Calif. Anthony Paz Torres was charged with fatally shooting a bystander outside a tire store owned by a Muslim...
Woman airlifted from Mount Bonnell
Woman airlifted from Mount Bonnell

A woman has been air-lifted from Mount Bonnell to a hospital after sustaining a leg injury, Austin Fire Department officials said. Emergency crews responded to the call around 11 a.m. Sunday after the woman reportedly tripped and fell on the trail. The woman is in stable condition with minor injuries, EMS said.
More Stories