RACINE -- It's the fifth largest city in Wisconsin, but healthcare access remains a challenge in Racine.
That's about to change thanks to a newly-announced, public-private partnership -- and a $1 million donation from Ascension Wisconsin.
Today, it's a school. But as soon as this summer, Julian Thomas Community School in Racine will also house the new Racine Community Health Clinic.
"Ascension All Saints (Hospital) has been in this community, partnering with the city, the county and industry for 150 years," Bernie Sherry, ministry market executive for Ascension Wisconsin, says.
It's a facility Racine has never had. It will give low-income families a chance to seek high-quality care for regular checkups, shots, dental and more -- with no insurance necessary.
"Instead of a family wondering, 'Can I get to a hospital?' Wondering, 'Can I afford to set up an appointment for my child to get a physical?' Now, I can walk from my house to the school," says Shebaniah Muhammad, president of the Racine Community Health Clinic board of directors.
Their goal? Save families a trip to the emergency room an provide a community space for preventative care. It's an idea Racine Mayor Cory Mason says wouldn't happen without this public-private partnership.
"One definition of community that I really like is the things that we can do together that we couldn't do by ourselves to move the community forward," Mason says. "I think this is a great example of that."
Ascension's donation is split into $200,000 increments over the next five years. To help the clinic open this year, the City of Racine, Racine County and Gateway Technical College all pledged $50,000 as well.