Midwest Health Partners

Dr. Keith Vrbicky, primary physician and founder of Midwest Health Partners in Norfolk, worked with a variety of local entities to obtain a block grant that will fund a mobile medical clinic.

A Northeast Nebraska health care provider soon will be better equipped to help fight the pandemic and respond to emergencies throughout the region.

Midwest OB-GYN Clinic — which does business as Midwest Health Partners — has served residents of Norfolk and the surrounding area since 1984, with a focus on comprehensive women’s and children’s care. Now, with funding from the state-administered Community Development Block Grant-Coronavirus program and assistance from local stakeholders, the facility is about to take its services on the move.

“COVID-19 made it abundantly clear that our patients — particularly in rural areas —were no longer able to travel safely to a central location to receive the care they need,” said Dr. Keith Vrbicky, Midwest Health Partners’ primary physician and founder. “So we decided we should go to them.”

Vrbicky and his team envisioned a mobile clinic that would be fully outfitted to test, trace, treat and vaccinate for coronavirus.

“With today’s technology, we have the ability to perform almost any procedure that you would see in a normal doctor’s office remotely,” Vrbicky said.

He also pointed to the potential for other uses — such as flood, fire or tornado response — when needed.

An array of features make the mobile clinic prepared for any contingency, Vrbicky said, ranging from a satellite antenna and internet connectivity to equipment for performing mobile ultrasounds.

“Imagine being able to transmit images of an infected set of lungs to a respiratory therapist located miles away or to provide on-site care and monitoring to an expectant mother recovering from COVID-19,” he said.

To find funding, Midwest Health Partners turned to the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District — a regional nonprofit development organization with a long history of community development block grant management and expertise — and the City of Norfolk for help securing the program funds through the State of Nebraska.

Administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the CARES Act, the program provides allotments to states to help communities respond to, prevent and prepare for COVID-19.

In this case, the City of Norfolk served as the grant recipient for program funds, which it subsequently loaned to Midwest Health Partners for working capital and equipment purchases on a performance basis. Once the company fulfills its obligation to create six full-time jobs — 51% or more of which must benefit low- to moderate-income persons — the loan will be forgiven.

“We probably never could have achieved this vision without the (community development block grant) program, or without the incredible response we received from the City of Norfolk and Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District,” Vrbicky said. “I think everyone sees the need for a project like this. This is a new level of health care access and safety for potentially 150,000 people in our region. It will really allow us to reach out and make a big impact.”

The new clinic is scheduled to be up and running in the coming months.