A variety of specialty health care services are now available in one location, just off Highway 210 in Baxter.

Community members flocked to the 15,000-square-foot CentraCare Specialty Clinic on Forthun Road Monday, Sept. 17, during an open house to speak with providers and learn about the services offered in six fields: brain and spine care, kidney care, plastic surgery, heart care, urology and wound care.

Some of those specialties-like nephrology (kidney care)-are services patients have been able to get through CentraCare at other facilities in the lakes area for years, but the new Baxter location offers another level of convenience and adds preparatory dialysis classes that previously required travel to St. Cloud for patients getting ready for dialysis.

"We can offer those classes here, so it's going to be a much more convenient option," Mark Thompson, section director of medical specialties, said Monday. "And that's just a small thing. That's almost an icing on the cake sort of thing compared to all the opportunities and services that exist here."

Other specialties-like wound care-are newer to the lakes area and, though available at other facilities, are in high demand.

"There might be other wound care capabilities in the area," Kimberly Murray, CentraCare site manager, said, "but those people get very tapped out, and they don't always have the capability of adding new patients on readily and quickly because that's a service line that's very unique. Only certain people can do it, and so by having some choices, it also allows people quicker access to care."

Ultimately, with care for so many specialties offered in one location, CentraCare staff believes the Baxter clinic will be beneficial to lakes area patients and health care providers alike.

"It's an opportunity for us to pull together both existing and new specialites," Thompson said. "(Providers) that have been coming up here for a long time have really appreciated the opportunity to come up here and take care of patients," Thompson said. "They've had to move around from time to time, different clinic spaces and so forth. This will be a way for them to be able to have a permanent home, if you will."