A Peoria-based medical facility has plans to bring a primary care clinic to Galesburg

Jay Redfern
Galesburg Register-Mail

GALESBURG — A new healthcare clinic is planned this year for Galesburg.

Peoria-based Solvera Health plans to locate a comprehensive primary care facility in Galesburg later this year.  

Owner and CEO Phil Caplis opened the first Solvera Health facility in October 2021 at 3525 N. University St. in Peoria. Located in a former Golden Corral restaurant, the remodeled 12,000-square-foot building is home to doctors' offices and includes diagnostic-testing facilities and laboratories, physical-therapy equipment and a pharmacy. Solvera Health recently opened a second location in Carbondale.

"Our world has gotten very urgent care focused, and very specialty-focused, and we've gotten away from the primary doctor," said Tony Johnson, director of marketing for Solvera. "Insurance companies and Medicare are really driving patients back to that because patients are using ER as their doctor.

"So, you're seeing a move back to primary care, and that's why we exist."

Johnson said they are still exploring locations for their Galesburg facility, and should have a formal announcement on expansion plans around July 1. He confirmed one of the locations Solvera Health is considering is the recently closed Iron Eagle Harley-Davidson building at 131 S. Soangetaha Road.

Solvera Health, according to Johnson, accepts all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. In an Oct. 7, 2021, article that appeared in the Journal Star, Caplis said the target audience is Medicare recipients.

"In the big healthcare model, hospitals try to be primary care," Johnson said. "We want to be true primary care. We work closely with OSF and Unity Point, and even though we're not part of their system, we refer patients to them." 

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Closure of Cottage Hospital expedited Solvera Health expansion plans

Johnson said the company had been planning an expansion to Galesburg, but the closure of Cottage Hospital and more specifically the departure of doctors at Cottage Clinic expedited the plans.    

"Our business plan does call for expansion because there's a market need," he said. "We have been following closely what's going on with Cottage, but had been evaluating expanding to Galesburg, anyway. Cottage closing kind of opened the door and advanced the opportunity. 

"It's a big market opportunity. And we've been identifying possible providers, which are now available with the closing of Cottage."

Johnson said Solvera Health had hoped to locate a facility in the Cottage Professional Building, but those plans were dashed when OSF HealthCare purchased the entire Cottage campus

"We definitely believe there's a model to support the healthcare needs in Galesburg," Johnson said. "We're really encouraged with the discussions we've had so far with everybody in the community. 

"We're looking at hiring people. We're having discussion with providers. We're looking at possible locations. We've really made a lot of progress in the last month, and we hope to have more details by July 1."

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New clinic hopes to hire some former Cottage doctors

According to Johnson, Solvera Health plans to hire some physicians "who will be familiar to people in Galesburg." He added they would most likely open with a temporary location.  

"With Cottage closing, there are a lot of patients just out there in limbo." he said.

Johnson said Solvera Health does not view itself as a competition to hospitals.

"I travel a lot, and everywhere I go, these little primary care places are popping up," he said. "The market need is there, because the hospitals have gotten really big. 

"People wonder if we're in competition with the hospitals, and we say no, actually we're partners. A lot of our patients end up needing hospitalization or specialty care, and we are referring them. We're just trying to fill the market need for comprehensive, effective primary care."