OPINION | Health Care providers increase and expand outside the “Corridor”

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Businesses close and new businesses open continuously in Phillips Community. The Alley’s front page story in June and July 2009 was about Dr. Joe Grayden leaving the Community University Dental Clinic on Bloomington Avenue. But, he is continuing his practice ten blocks away on Lake Street. This event caused us to focus our attention on other changes of health provider locations in the blocks close to Bloomington and between Franklin and Lake Street. Here is what we found.

• Access Chiropractic, 1113 East Franklin
• NACC Dental Services, 1209 East Franklin (coming in Nov. 2009)
• Native American Community Clinic, 1213 East Franklin
• Moka Pharmacy, 1513 East Franklin
• Anishinabe Wakiagun, 1600 East 19th St
• Community University Health Care Center, Franklin and Bloomington
• Health Star Staffing and Home Care, 2020 Bloomington
• First Nation Recovery, 2020 Bloomington
• Global Health Mart Pharmacy, 912 East 24th Street
• Indian Health Board, 1315 East 24th Street
• Open Arms, 25th and Bloomington
• Metro Home Care, 2617 Bloomington
• Phillips Neighborhood Clinic, 26th and Bloomington at Oliver Ministry Center
• Lake Street Chiropractic, 1518 East Lake Street
• Lake Street Dental, Plaza Verde on Lake Street
• Spinal Health Chiropractic, Plaza Verde on Lake Street
• Cultural Wellness Center, 1527 East Lake Street
• Bloom-Lake Chiropractic, 1527 East Lake Street
• Bloomington Lake Clinic, 3017 Bloomington
• Bloom Lake Dental, 3042 Bloomington

Wait a minute! Dental and chiropractic clinics and pharmacies are popping up like drug stores and general practitioners in the 1950’s –like Ma and Pa groceries or convenience stores! This reminds me of the part of Phillips Community where I grew up. The portion of Phillips that was nicknamed “Medical Alley” 30 years ago and today is called “The Life Sciences Corridor” by City staff and politicians.

I grew up at 2512-2514 Chicago Avenue. Dr. Olaf Olson lived next door. He had his office, with roll-top desk, on second floor above what is now Sargeant Preston’s at Seven Corners of the West Bank and owned the 90 foot long set of storefronts at 25th and Chicago. Those stores were Speed’s Dairy, Ben’s Barber Shop, Supplee’s Pharmacy, and National Tea (a Cub or Rainbow of its day). Dr. Olson lived on Chicago Avenue long before it was the “Life Sciences Corridor” with Anna Peterson, his sister-in-law (they married later in their 80’s and honeymooned in native Sweden). It was a sweet, double-lot homestead with a large automatically sprinkled front lawn in front of the beautiful wide bungalow buffered from the busy street-car noise of Chicago Avenue by a full width front porch and a side, enclosed porch near the walking garden that was shaded delightfully with huge trees, shrubs, and flowers enclosing an almost secret garden. It was the house that Project for Pride in Living used as their main office for 30 years and also was the 2nd office of The Alley Newspaper from 1977-1982 for a VISTA editor.

Yes, like Dr. Olson, Supplee’s Pharmacy, and other pharmacies- two blocks away at 27th and Chicago, one at Franklin and Chicago, and more both ways on Franklin— they were all over within walking distance. Another pharmacy in Phillips was owned by Mayor Rybak’s parents. Obviously, that trend is repeating. Check it out. Dr. Olsom made house calls. The Moka Pharmacy sign—high above Franklin Avenue—“We bring the pharmacy to your door.”

Will the institutional gentrification that has characterized the Life Sciences Corridor from Hennepin County Medical Center to Lake Street also happen to the rest of Phillips? Will today’s rampant speculation that expansion limits were supposed to prevent spread to the remainder of the residential blocks? Will other large non-profits, hospitals, and clinics ravage what residential streets we have left like they and Mayor Rybak’s health care business promotion have done to Chicago Avenue? Can the institutional health care industry live beside residential houses as they profess to prefer when they advertise that they are in a “residential” neighborhood? Was the expansion limit agreement fashioned by thousands of hours of meetings and negotiations but eventually ignored once it served its purpose by maintaining the tax base and keeping purchase prices lower until the timing was right to demolish whole blocks again as happened when Children’s Hospital first built here? Will Phillips be duped again by politicians, speculators, hospitals, and clinics?

Besides the tremendous loss of good housing, the largest tragedy of the time from the years of the “Medical Alley” to today and the “The Life Sciences Corridor” is that trust was broken between residential neighbors and the institutions. Another tragedy can be the break down of trust between residential neighbors because no one knows who will sell-out next.

We now have several Medical Alleys throughout Phillips. Let us hope that all of those clinics and pharmacies will adopt the mantra that is this July Alley Newspaper’s headline, “We do what is best for the patients and make it work.” Let us also hope that they will also “make it work” by changing the system so that those who live here can be their patients as well as those who drive or fly into Phillips. Dr. Olson lived here and practiced here even with house calls. Can it work again? Might we be able to move from just the medical treatment of a disease of an individual to promoting wellness within a Community, by a Community?

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