Albion College, Oaklawn Enter Partnership to Expand Health Services to Students, Community

Starting in 2019, a new facility will open on the renovated ground floor of Munger Place Apartments at 301 E. Michigan Ave.

May 31, 2018

A brick building with white columns.

Munger Place Apartments, located at 301 E. Michigan Ave. In early 2019, the College-owned, City landmark building will serve as the location of a new health clinic for students and the community following a complete ground-floor renovation.

A new clinic intended to improve access to medical services for both Albion College students and Albion residents is expected to open early next year on the ground floor of the College’s Munger Place Apartments in central Albion.

The plan stems from a partnership between the College and Marshall-based Oaklawn, which is expected to transfer medical services in early 2019 from its current Albion office at 300 B Drive North to Munger Place at 301 E. Michigan Ave.

Renovation of the space is under way. When completed in the early spring of 2019, the as-yet-unnamed clinic is expected to occupy approximately 8,000 square feet, comprising the building’s entire ground floor.

For Albion College students, the expanded space will come with expanded service, including extended normal weekday hours (from the current 5 p.m. closing to 9 p.m.), new Saturday hours, the potential for Sunday hours, and an on-call physician at all times. The facility will feature complete health services—including after-hours services, immunizations, allergy shots and X-rays—within walking distance of the campus quadrangle.

The project grew from discussions between Oaklawn and College officials, who determined that the B Drive North clinic on the city’s northern outskirts is an inconvenient location for students and Albion residents in need of urgent care who may have limited access to transportation.

“This is a great solution for our students,” said Albion College President Mauri Ditzler, who joined Oaklawn President and CEO Ginger Williams in announcing the plan. “Our students’ well-being is our number-one priority, and this partnership will make it possible for students to see a local physician just a short walk from campus. The Munger location also will serve more residents in our host community. We’re excited to team up with Oaklawn to help them provide the highest quality care in Albion, more conveniently to more people.”

“We love this plan because it makes it possible for Oaklawn to fulfill its mission so beautifully,” Williams said. “We at Oaklawn are persistent in our dedication to improving access to health care throughout this area. This project will make it possible for us to do exactly that for our neighbors in Albion.”

The College’s Student Health Services (SHS) office, across from Seaton Hall, will continue to operate during the 2018 fall semester and will enter a transitionary phase during the first few weeks of the Munger clinic’s early 2019 opening. Following that, current SHS Director Cheryl Krause, BSN, RN-BC will serve as the College’s health-services liaison to Oaklawn, based on campus, and the current SHS office space will be repurposed.

Meanwhile, physicians and equipment from Oaklawn’s B Drive North facility eventually will move to the Michigan Avenue building. Oaklawn is expected to add staff to the central site to accommodate the expanded service hours, said Richard C. Lindsey, Oaklawn’s executive director of legal and community affairs. After-hours medical services also are expected to be added in the future, he said.

“Since the hospital closed in 2002, Albion has not had after-hours care readily available,” Krause said. “The new shared clinic between Albion College and Oaklawn will provide both students and community members with better access to care.”

In addition to financial commitments from Oaklawn and the College, additional funds for the project are being obtained through the Battle Creek Community Foundation and the state of Michigan, Lindsey said. He credited Michigan state Senator Mike Nofs for assistance in obtaining an $850,000 grant through the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nofs was assisted in that effort by Michigan state Representatives John Bizon and David Maturen, Lindsey said.

“This is another wonderful example of the ongoing collaboration among local residents as well as county and state businesses, organizations and officials that is helping to revitalize the community of Albion,” Lindsey said.

“This is an exciting development that will aid in addressing several gaps in healthcare access in our community,” said City of Albion Mayor Garrett Brown. “Residents will benefit from the convenient location, and the collaboration between the two local institutions will, I hope, serve as a successful partnership model.”

Added Williams: “This project makes such great sense, because it offers so many ways for medical services to expand and become more available in Albion. Our ongoing mission is to provide personal, compassionate, accessible, and high-quality care to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve. We’re always striving to give perfect care—every time—while advancing the practice of medicine in this region.”

The building that houses the College’s Munger Place Apartments originally opened as the Parker Inn in 1926 and operated for decades as Albion’s largest hotel, according to local historian Frank Passic. The hotel closed in 1970 and in subsequent years Albion College has primarily used the building as a student residence.

The College has started a question-and-answer page about the new health-services partnership with Oaklawn