KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro health center is celebrating 50 years of helping patients in the urban core and introducing a new CEO.
Swope Health has played a big part in treating low-income families in Kansas City.
In 1969, what would become Swope Health started in a church basement with 20 employees. They served 2,000 patients in their first year.
Now, there are nine locations across the metro serving more than 43,000 people each year.
Many patients live below federal poverty guidelines.
New CEO Jeron Ravin has been with the health center since August. He plans to carry on Founder E. Frank Ellis' legacy.
"It means a lot," Ravin said. "So, our goal is to prevent folks from going to the emergency room. That's not where you want to seek primary care and that's not a step in preventative care."
Ravin's vision for the next 50 years takes services outside their locations, allowing more access for seniors and schoolchildren.
"Before I started coming to Swope, I actually stayed in my house for three years," patient Brenda Chapman said. "Didn't come out for nothing."
Chapman deals with anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD and sometimes feels hopeless.
Swope Health has helped her develop coping skills leading her to a better life.
"You know, a lot of it, it all has to do with my past and I'm just glad I got the help for it," Chapman said.
She also receives dental care and goes for regular doctor visits.
"I do everything here," Chapman said.
Unhappy a year ago, Chapman says she was short-tempered and violent without knowing why. Swope helped her understand her feelings. "And now I'm just happy," Chapman said. "I'm just still dealing with stuff but I'm a lot more happier."
She encourages others to get help, too.
"If you think that you need the help just go, get the help," Chapman said. "It's worth it. It really is."
Ravin says Swope Health strives to be a "health care home". It offers a multitude of medical and behavioral health services.
"We want to be in the community and mitigating health harming habits and disparities, right? That's the goal here," Ravin said. "So, if we can do that the next 50 years and I'm still around I will be very happy about that."
Swope Health is putting on a Gala Nov. 16, 2019 to benefit the health center. It will be at the Intercontinental Hotel, across from the Plaza. If you would like to buy a ticket, visit SwopeHealth.org.
Ravin is from Houston where he studied law. That's actually the third degree he has earned.