Outlook 'positive' for reopening of medical clinic at Lodi/Seville TA

By Sandi Soendker, Land Line editor-in-chief | 2/29/2012

Back in December, the opening of the Statcare Medical Clinic at the Lodi/Seville, OH, TravelCenters of America was hailed as a welcome and vital service for truckers. When the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission quickly shut the new minute-type clinic down, the clinic’s owner, the travel center and professional drivers were shocked.

Zoning Inspector Matt Witmer told Land Line that it was closed for doing business in an area not zoned for a health care provider. Witmer said the commission had nothing against the clinic, but it simply violated the zoning laws.

Discouraged but not defeated, Statcare owner Ken Filbert set a course to change those laws. He recruited the help of truckers via a petition and gathered hundreds of signatures to present to the zoning board to demonstrate the level of support for the clinic. Filbert’s landlord, TA, offered its assistance, too.

On Tuesday night, the Westfield township held its regular Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Statcare was represented by one of Filbert’s nurse practitioners.

The outcome was described by Filbert as “good news.”

“The clinic in Seville will be reopening in 90 days, or possibly less,” Filbert said after the meeting. “The city zoning group’s members are unanimous in their support of our facility reopening. All of them felt the outdated code must be changed immediately.” 

Filbert commended TA for offering assistance and praised the outpouring of support from professional drivers.

“I am certain that the township’s actions would not have been possible without the grassroots support of the drivers, and certainly not without TA’s moving swiftly to get all the paperwork completed,” said Filbert, who added that TA assisted by sending the required paperwork by special courier in time for the meeting.

“TA has really stood by Statcare throughout this process. It is clear to me that they don’t just talk about drivers’ health and their needs; they are committed to it,” he said. “I can't wait to reopen the facility.”

TA Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Tom Liutkus said TravelCenters of America supports the idea of providing services like this to professional drivers. They will continue in that direction in the future.

In addition to the required documents, the Planning and Zoning Board was presented with petitions signed by more than 300 drivers.

“I signed the petition and shared it with everyone I knew because medical clinics like this one are so vital to professional drivers,” said trucker and OOIDA Life Member Sandy Long, Marceline, MO. “With stepped-up requirements coming at us from FMCSA’s Medical Review Board and all the focus on drivers’ health, it’s absolutely imperative that we have better access to medical care while we are on the road. When you are on the road and have a medical issue, what do you do? If you’re driving a tractor-trailer, it’s not that easy to pull into a doctor’s office or even an ER.”

While there are some required approvals and meetings that need to be held to complete the process, Filbert says from all indications, things look “extremely positive.”

Filbert says his health care group operates clinics in several grocery store chains in Ohio and has plans to install a network of clinics in TA locations throughout the U.S. The Lodi facility was the pilot store. Filbert’s clinic offered complete health care services for acute illnesses and for chronic issues such as diabetic concerns, high blood pressure and more. It also provided DOT physicals and drug testing. 

In addition, Filbert reports he had partnered with Discount Drug Mart to bring the prescriptions to the TA facility to make it even easier for the drivers.

Following the Tuesday night meeting, Zoning Inspector Witmer agreed that it went “very well.” Witmer said a public hearing was being scheduled for March 27 in Seville.

Witmer said he did not expect opposition but said it “wouldn’t hurt” for truckers who live in the Lodi/Seville area to attend the meeting to lend support.

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