About Good Neighbor Healthcare
Good Neighbor Healthcare Center, a non-profit United Way health care agency, is proud of its long tradition of providing services in a caring environment where fees are charged on a sliding scale according to income.
The clinic offers care in the following areas: pediatrics, adult care, women’s care, dentistry, and behavioral health. Breast cancer education and screening services are available, as are lab services and nutritional counseling. Partners in care include: the University of Houston College of Optometry Clinic, the Menninger Clinic, and our local Walgreens Pharmarcy.
In 2005, Good Neighbor became a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). FQHCs serve low income and medically underserved communities, and fees are based on the patient’s ability to pay. They are staffed by highly competent health care professional teams who provide quality healthcare to all people regardless of insurance status or income level. FQHCs are also community controlled by voluntary Boards of Directors. The majority of each Board must be users of the clinic.
The costs of care at FQHCs rank among the lowest, and FQHCs reduce the need for more expensive hospital-based and specialty care, saving billions of dollars for taxpayers. For more information on Federally Qualified Health Centers, click here to read “America’s Health Centers,” the 2010 Fact Sheet published by the National Association of Community Health Centers (www.nachc.org). For a more local perspective, click here to read the 2011 Fact Sheet published by the Texas Association of Community Health Centers (www.tachc.org).
Good Neighbor Healthcare Center promotes the well-being of our community by providing a full range of affordable quality primary and preventative health care in an environment that fosters dignity and respect.
To expand the scope of primary healthcare services, “The Good Neighbor Way.”
Ann Thielke – Chief Executive Officer
Thielke comes to Good Neighbor from VHA, Inc. in Irving, Texas, where she served as senior vice president and general counsel since 2012. In addition to leading the legal services, compliance, risk management, offices services and public policy departments, Thielke represented VHA as a member on the Health Leadership Council in Washington, D.C. Prior to VHA, Thielke was vice president and general counsel at St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System in Houston, Texas during its growth from two to six hospitals. Earlier in her legal career, Thielke practiced health law at the law firms of Andrews Kurth LLP in Houston, Texas and Kegler, Brown, Hill and Ritter in Columbus, Ohio.
Thielke received a bachelor’s degree with honors in nursing from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, and earned her law degree with honors from The Ohio State University College of Law in Columbus. She is a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Women Business Leaders of the U.S. Health Care Industry Foundation and the Board of Trustees of A.T. Still University.
Andrew Barbe – Chief Financial Officer
Andrew Barbe is a highly experienced and seasoned financial executive who most recently served as Chief Financial Officer for a professional services company. Previously, he served in similar roles with two different energy companies as well as served as a Director with a boutique financial advisory firm, several years in the audit practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers as well as various managerial roles in operations and business development in the healthcare and professional services industries. His expertise includes contending with financial and operational issues associated with private and public companies as well as driving business performance while enhancing growth. He has overseen finance, accounting, human resources, information technology, legal and land management in his respective roles. He is Certified Public Accountant in the state of Texas, a Chartered Global Management Accountant and holds an MBA and BBA.
Dr. Pauline Ahamneze – Chief Medical Officer
A 1994 graduate of Dartmouth Medical School, Dr. AhamNeze took her Residency in Family Medicine at Brown University in Rhode Island. She brings a wealth of expertise in Community Health care settings and Family Medicine to Good Neighbor, having helped to establish the Aldine Community Health Center, where she also served as the Medical Director for two years, among many other interesting experiences.
Angela F. Barnes, D.D.S. – Chief Dental Officer
A native of Madison, Mississippi, Dr. Barnes received her Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree (D.D.S.) from Meharry Medical College in 2004. Her initial interest in dentistry was sparked when she worked as an office manager in a dental office in Jackson, Mississippi. It was there that Dr. Barnes first realized the importance of dental health to one’s overall health status. While in school, Dr. Barnes earned many scholarships and accolades, including a scholarship with the National Health Services Corps. Active in the community, she is currently the Chairperson of the Texas Oral Health Coalition – Houston Region, where she continues to improve oral health for all Texans. Dr. Barnes brings a high level of professional accomplishment and experience to her work at Good Neighbor.
Tuesday Coffman – Chief Operations Officer
Tuesday Coffman comes to Good Neighbor Healthcare Center from Healthcare for the Homeless Houston where she was Chief Operations Officer. At Healthcare for the Homeless she managed Human Resources, Contracts, Outside Vendors, Quality Improvement, Electronic Medical Record, Customer Service, Marketing, Strategic Planning, and Facilities. She has worked for such diverse For-Profit Companies and Not-for-Profit organizations such as Northwest Assistance Ministries, Southwest Nephrology Associates, and Methodist Hospital-Sugar Land. In addition to her extensive work experience, Ms. Coffman offers her expertise as a member of NAM Children’s Clinic Advisory Board, Gateway to Care and Children’s Defense Fund and American Red Cross. Ms. Coffman holds a M.B.A from the University of Phoenix-Houston Campus.
Lance M. Jones, BHA – Chief Development Officer
Jones joined Good Neighbor Health Center 2014 as Chief Development
Officer of Good Neighbor Healthcare Center. Lance brings to Good
Neighbor a vast background in marketing, patient development, coupled
with a strong administrative background in coding and compliance. Prior
to Good Neighbor, Lance spent 13 years with Harris Health, for which the
past nine years were spent with Community Health Choice, a wholly owned
subsidiary of Harris Health, where he played a key role in growing
Prior to Harris Health, Lance held a combination of both coding and compliance roles at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Stanford University Medical Center. I am excited to welcome Lance as a key member of my leadership team where he will oversee the marketing, branding and development of Good Neighbor.
Jeffees Gullett, MD
Eugenia Legarda, MD
Jacqueline Meeks, MD
Pamela Nguyen, MD
Mary Rae, MD
Angela Filzen, DDS
Stacie Burch, D.D.S.
Detra Early, R.D.H.
Sonia Figueroa, R.D.H.
Simone Gainey, D.D.S.
Jessie Johnson, R.D.H.
Andrea L. Williams, D.D.S.
Michelle Davila, RD, LD, CDE
The Prenatal Department is staffed by Baylor College of Medicine Certified Nurse Midwives.
The Optometry Department is staffed by doctors and residents of the University of Houston College of Optometry.
Behavioral Health Services are provided through our partnerships with Family Services of Greater Houston and The Menninger Clinic.
Good Neighbor Healthcare Center – Today
Health centers play a major role in caring for the newly insured, particularly during a period when many had difficulty finding primary care, while continuing to serve uninsured residents. Health centers also provided insurance enrollment assistance for the newly eligible.
Good Neighbor Healthcare Center (GNHC) provides affordable healthcare to low-income and working families in the Houston area for now more than 40 years. Over 85% of our families have at least one family member who is employed. Even so, most of them are uninsured. Our youngest patients are newborns; our oldest are two sisters now in the there 90’s who have been coming her almost since the day we opened. We have treated three and four generations in many of our families.
Founded in 1968, with the support of Chapewood United Methodist Church, www.chapelwood.org, St. Philip Presbyterian Church, www.saintphilip.net, and St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, www.sjd.org, the original clinic opened in a former Weingarten’s store at 277 west Gray. After 40 years of faithful service to the community, GNHC outgrew this space. In spring 2008, we moved our “home” base to the city-owned West End Clinic located at 190 Heights Boulevard Houston, Texas.
Full access to high-quality health care remains a crucial need for low-income and minority patients living in Harris County, where more than 30% of the population under the age of 65 has no health insurance. Mortality rates relate to heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and HIV / AIDS are high and a number of key indicators – high rate of teenage girls giving birth, teen mortality, low-birth-weight babies, obesity, tuberculosis infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and lack of dental care—all point to a community in a health care crisis. As a result, this population lives with chronic, untreated medical problems or inappropriately seeks care in local emergency rooms, burdening local hospitals.
By directly addressing crucial community and cultural needs, GNHC continues to have a positive impact on the health of the population we serve.
Good Neighbor Healthcare Center – Evolving Clinic, Enduring Values
The Vision Takes Shape: 1968 To 2000
During the tumultuous period of the late 1960s, many people began to look closely at their communities, pitch in, and do something to remedy many of the problems faced by Americans. In some ways, this is how Good Neighbor Healthcare Center came into being.
The Early Years
In 1968, Dr. Robert M. Eckert, inspired by the evangelical ministry of the Church of the Redeemer Episcopal Church, left a very successful private medical practice and opened what was then known as the Fourth Ward Kennedy Brothers Clinic to serve the poverty–stricken neighborhoods near downtown Houston that included historic Freedmen’s Town. According to a newspaper account of the time, members of the Fourth Ward community named the clinic in honor of the then recently fallen Kennedy brothers, John and Robert, as well as Senator Edward Kennedy. In fact, the community played a key role in the management of the clinic in the early years, beginning a tradition of involvement that has endured to this day.
At one time, the clinic was open on West Dallas, then moved to 312 Pierce, before eventually finding a permanent home in the old Weingarten’s grocery store at 277 West Gray. Through the years, the original clinic provided extensive medical care to the community, depending on a corps of volunteers and staff members who worked for very little pay. An old agency newsletter recounts that these volunteers “did whatever it took to keep the community healthy. If a house needed screens to protect children from insect bites, they put up screens, they fixed the plumbing, and they fed the hungry.”
The Harris County Medical Society Bulletin favorably noted the work of Dr. Eckert and the Fourth Ward Clinic in September 1972, and again in November 1974. The Clinic was becoming known in the community for the excellence of its care.
The Clinic That Wouldn’t Die
However, by 1976, the group that had opened the clinic felt a calling to other missions, and the Fourth Ward Clinic ceased operating, leaving many in the community without adequate primary health care services once more. But the Fourth Ward Clinic would soon rise like a phoenix, due largely to the dedication of a small group of people who – quite simply – wouldn’t give up. Mary Lou Hall, a former Board member, was intricately involved in the efforts to revive the clinic, and has very vivid recollections of that critical moment in its history. She was interviewed in 2002.
“In the fall of 1976, our church, St. John the Divine, received a letter from the Reverend Nat McGinnis, who was Director of Anchor House in the Fourth Ward, requesting our Thanksgiving food offering. So I happened to be in church one afternoon and our rector then was the Reverend Maurice Benitez (later to become Bishop Benitez of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas). His door was open and he called me in to discuss the letter with him.” Out of that discussion, Ms. Hall and a group from her church went to see Reverend McGinnis to see “what his true needs were.” Reverend McGinnis didn’t hesitate to answer – of course, it was health care for his community, and, specifically, the re-opening of the Fourth Ward Clinic that had closed earlier in the year. And so it happened. Greatly aided by the addition of representatives from St. Philip Presbyterian and Chapelwood United Methodist churches, and with the Fourth Ward community involved as well, the group began to meet regularly.
“I like to think of the foundation of this clinic with four corners – St. John, St. Philip, Chapelwood, and the Fourth Ward community,” Ms. Hall fondly stated. “And it was a bit of an exhilarating experience to see how well we worked together, and how we were really quite a diverse group. And the main thing we had in common was that none of us knew anything about medical care, but we were very dedicated to re-opening the clinic. And it was very hard work.”
“People came together and felt like this clinic ought to be re-opened,” added David Martin, a commercial realtor who was also active in these early efforts and served for a time in the 1980s as the President of Good Neighbor.
And through their hard work, the steps necessary to open a medical clinic began to happen. Dr. Harold Nelson, a sociology professor from the University of Houston, offered some invaluable expertise and leadership during this time, and eventually, according to Ms. Hall, “a doctor was found who was willing to come out of retirement and work for a year at a low salary.”
Miraculously, the Fourth Ward Clinic re-opened on May 1, 1977, with a mere $900 in operating funds. Within the week, however, M.D. Anderson Foundation awarded the clinic a $25,000 grant, and the clinic’s doors were open for good.
A Part of The Community
Following those initial hurdles, the clinic grew slowly, step by step. Although it would experience some financial challenges from time to time, the faith and persistence of the Board never wavered. The Fourth Ward Clinic once again became a mainstay in the community. Jeanne Sickman-Hanks, who served as the Executive Director from 1989 to 1998, recalled in 2002 the sense of closeness that the clinic enjoyed among its neighbors and patients. “I live in the neighborhood and have lived here since 1989 and on the first Halloween I was here, my trick or treaters were patients. Or I would be out with my dog, or be out bicycling and see the patients. I realized how powerful Good Neighbor was when I got to know the patients. When you see the impact it has on some people’s lives, it’s tremendous.”
Liz Hogan, who was the clinic’s nutritionist for about 10 years, remembered that the patients she served always had economic worries, though most of them had jobs: “A lot of them were just coming into the city, just getting started. And a lot of them were people who lived in the neighborhood. I used to get food from the church. They built me a little place for the food pantry. They gave me maybe $300 a month and I would order food to help the street people that came to the clinic. A lot of people did come in both sick and hungry.”
As the clinic provided more services to the community, renovation of the facility became a necessity. The west side of the building was refurbished in 1983-84, and this was followed by the remodeling of the east side (known fondly to staff members as “the dungeon”) in 1996. “The big mechanical device that provided the heating and the cooling for the building was back there,” Ms. Sickman-Hanks explained, “and it looked like a dragon. The dungeon was the right name! We wanted to use the space because we were bursting at the seams.”
By 1986, the Board voted to change the name of the clinic to Good Neighbor Healthcare Center, to reflect the wider role that the clinic now played in the community. Indeed, Good Neighbor now serves individuals from nearly every zip code in the Greater Houston area. During the 1990s, Good Neighbor reached agreements with the University of Texas and Baylor College of Medicine, so that patients could have full and affordable access to quality pediatric care, adult care, and midwifery services. And following years of planning and fundraising, Good Neighbor proudly opened the Good Neighbor Dental Clinic in 2000, addressing a critical need in the community for regular dental care.