Scott Ball / Rivard Report
A new health and wellness clinic opened Monday to serve low-income and uninsured residents on the Southeast Side, one of the most medically underserved areas in San Antonio.
The Dixon Health & Wellness Center, a sprawling 20-acre property once the site of the former Southeast Baptist Hospital, offers medical, dental, and behavioral health care, physical therapy, and oral surgery, with services provided on a sliding-fee scale based on ability to pay.
“The facility is designed to be a place for true compassionate care, healing, and wellness,” said Alice Gannon, board chair of Methodist Healthcare Ministries, the clinic's operator and nonprofit arm of Methodist Healthcare System.
A small chapel, an outdoor walking path lined with benches, and a garden were added to the building and grounds and are open to anyone in the community, she said, noting that more amenities will be added over time.
Formerly the Bishop T. Dixon Jr. Clinic, MHM relocated the medical practice from its home at 1954 E. Houston St. to 4212 East Southcross following an independent healthcare study identifying the area as high-need and lacking care options. MHM invested more than $3.5 million to purchase the property in 2017 and renamed it following renovations to reflect the holistic care now available to the community.
In addition to medical, dental, and behavioral health care, patients have access to case management, referral resources, and pharmacy services – all in one building.
Dr. Brian Skop, senior vice president of behavioral health services with MHM, said offering mental health treatment in the same building as medical and dental services may help improve appointment attendance rates because patients are already comfortable and familiar with the facility. It would also help with quick referrals among departments and allow for a more integrated and comprehensive approach to care, he said.
The new dental suite offers 24 dental chairs and an oral surgery area, where two dentists and three hygienists will perform cleanings, provide full and partial dentures, restore implants, and complete full-mouth reconstruction for patients in need of major dental work.
Instructors and students with the University of the Incarnate Word School of Physical Therapy will provide physical therapy to all patients at the Dixon Wellness Center.
The building’s namesake, Bishop Ernest T. Dixon Jr., grew up on San Antonio's East Side and was the first black bishop elected by the southern jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. He went on to serve on the MHM board of directors, working to improve healthcare access for underserved residents throughout San Antonio. He died in 1996, but is remembered as a social justice advocate who believed patients should have access to quality care regardless of their ability to pay.
The opening of the Dixon Wellness Center coincides with the first day on the job for MHM’s new President and CEO Jaime Wesolowski, who was appointed to the position in July following more than a decade serving as president and CEO of Methodist Healthcare System.
Wesolowski said he felt there was no better day to start his new endeavor than on one celebrating Dixon’s life.
“He made an indelible mark on [MHM’s] mission, 'Serving humanity to honor God,’” Wesolowski said. “The work that [MHM] has done reflects advocacy and passion for the community” and inspires him to be the best CEO he can be going forward, he said.