Acadiana Cares to open Northside primary care and mental health clinic this summer

A man stands on a construction site.
Acadiana Cares Executive Director Claude Martin stands inside the Pride Plaza building currently under renovation in Lafayette, La., on Wednesday, February 7, 2024. Photo by Alena Maschke

Work is underway at the Pride Plaza building on the corner of Pierce and Willow streets, turning the building, which previously housed three separate physicians offices, into a clinic operated by Acadiana Cares.

“The real focus is providing primary care for people, trying to bring real quality care to individuals in this area, in this community,” said Executive Director Claude Martin.

Once the clinic opens in the summer — Martin said the organization hopes they’ll be open for business in July — it will provide primary care and mental health services previously provided on its main campus located just a mile up the road.

The new location, Martin noted, offers more space, allowing the clinic to serve a higher volume of patients and expand services. The clinic currently serves around 2,000 patients, a number Martin hopes to double at the new location.

“We'll have a lot of visibility that we don't have back where we are right now. We're really tucked away into our own little campus,” he said.

Acadiana Cares was founded nearly 40 years ago to serve communities affected by HIV/AIDS, but has since expanded to address inequities in health care, homelessness and substance abuse.

Acadiana Cares is already staffing up to accommodate that increased volume and train staff ahead of the opening date, including a new psychiatric nurse to assist with the expansion of mental health services at the new location. Martin said the organization is also considerings hiring a podiatrist, because of the high volume of diabetes patients it serves, who often have downstream foot issues.

Hours and payment options will remain the same, with pricing at a sliding scale based on income. The clinic accepts all insurance types, with roughly 80% of patients insured via Medicaid or Medicare, according to Martin. Case workers are available to help uninsured patients figure out whether they qualify for either program and discuss enrollment options.

Spanish speaking providers are also available, something Martin credits for the significant chunk of Spanish speaking patients the clinic is seeing. “That’s been a huge part of growing our patient population,” he said.

Moving the clinic from Acadiana Cares’ main campus to Pride Plaza will make space for an expansion of the organization’s substance abuse treatment services at the 4-acre compound.

Substance abuse treatment at Acadiana Cares currently starts after patients have completed detox and a 28-day rehab program elsewhere. Soon, the organization hopes to also provide those services on-site, allowing them to take patients from active addiction to long-term recovery.

Acadiana Cares purchased the Pride Plaza property on Pierce Street, including an undeveloped lot south of the existing building, for just over $1 million in July 2021. Two of the retired physicians whose practices were previously located in the building still provide services via Acadiana Cares, one as the medical director for the organization’s substance abuse program and one as an internist seeing primary care patients.

The undeveloped property to the south of Pride Plaza, which was named by the four Black physicians who had it built as a center of quality healthcare in the otherwise underserved community, could eventually be used for a supportive housing development, Martin said.