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GraceMed’s Downing Family Clinic: A Legacy of Hope

Among our present-day network of clinics, the Downing Family Clinic holds a special position. In 2008,  Russ Meyer was looking for partners to join him in bringing opportunity to some neighborhoods on  21st that had long been locked in economic despair. We are so grateful that he found able partners in  Barry and Paula Downing who saw the need to improve access to medical services in that area.  

For GraceMed, the Downing Family Clinic represented our first venture into a satellite location since  becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center the year before. It was also our first collaboration with  USD 259 to build a clinic as an annex to one of their schools, in this case, Gordon Parks Academy. This  was an opportunity to validate that our model of care could be transplanted to medical deserts where  the residents would otherwise be too far away from the care their families needed. Having affordable  medical and dental care just a few steps away from the classroom became an enormous convenience  that continues to make a dramatic difference in the health, well-being and academic performance of  the children. 

But the Downing’s vision was to serve the healthcare needs of everyone in the family, and today,  that’s exactly what we’re doing. We provide primary medical and dental hygiene services for everyone  regardless of age or insurance coverage. In the last three years alone, we have seen more than 13,000  patients. The clinic has become a vital part of the community and the proving ground for our satellite  operations in six subsequently established, school-based clinics. 

So the story of our Downing Family Clinic continues to expand into the lives and health of children  and their families throughout Wichita and even beyond as we have grown into Topeka, McPherson  and Clearwater. The despair witnessed by the Downings and Russ Meyer all those years ago has been  replaced by the hope of better life that is only possible if you have your health.  

Children are overcoming chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma that once limited their potential.  They’re getting more out of their education and their futures. Their parents are living healthier, more  productive lives, too, laying the groundwork upon which their children can thrive. And all of it was  made possible through the vision and generous support of the Downing Family Foundation. 

Submitted by: 

Venus Lee, CEO 

GraceMed Health Clinic, Inc.

(Click each photo to enlarge)

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being,
let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” ~William Penn