Lone Star Family Health Center received eight grants in January totaling $908,600 to help fund key projects, including expanding the behavioral health program, creating an adult dental service, providing free cancer screenings and building upgrades.

Karen Harwell, CEO of Lone Star Family Health, said these grants help keep services for patients affordable at the Lone Star Family Health Center.

“The population we serve is primarily low income,” she said in a phone interview. “We don’t turn anyone away, even if they can’t pay the full cost up front, so these grants are vital to us being able to charge the patient what they can afford.”

The clinic immediately used the $10,000 grant by FAITH Fighting Cancer on Feb. 14 to screen over 20 patients in need for cancer, Marketing and Communications Manager Courtney Galle said in a phone interview. Lone Star Family Health also received $20,000 from the American Cancer Society for cancer prevention.

Harwell said the clinic primarily focuses on breast cancer, pancreatic, colon and oral cancer.

“Prevention is key,” she said. “We seek those prevention funds specifically because we don't want people to catch those situations late and it becomes impossible to pay for.”

Three of the grants will be used to renovate and expand the current Conroe building located at 605 S. Conroe Medical Drive, Harwell said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services granted $500,000 for the project. Montgomery County Community Foundation donated $12,500, according to a news release Jan. 23.

“The moment our doors open, we are booked,” she said. “We have a very high demand, so a lot of the time we are hindered by the amount of grants we get. Now we can do some much needed expansion and start hiring more physicians.”

As such, Harwell said she intends to use part of the grants to hire more staff to send to the health center’s satellite campuses in Spring, Willis and Huntsville.

Galle said renovations will also include creating a new entrance on the right side of the building in Conroe and expanding the square footage of the top floor to accommodate a larger women’s health clinic.

After hiring its third OB-GYN in January and another starting in September 2023, the clinic will have four full-time OB-GYN practitioners by the end of the year, Galle said.

Further, the behavioral health program will also see expansion with a $185,000 grant from Houston Methodist Health Innovation. Harwell said Lone Star Family Health employs three full-time counselors, and the grant will be used to hire more.

“There is a big demand for mental health right now,” she said. “We aren’t even close to funding that on our own, so this grant will help us double the size of our counseling team and reach more patients who need us.”

Other grants will be used for general operating funds and upgrading the main office.

An additional $200,000 by Houston Methodist will be used for in-kind labs, allowing patients to receive specialty lab services within the Houston Methodist system without cost.

“Our mission is to serve the underserved,” Galle said. “So anytime we can get the funds that specifically apply to them and help us in that aspect, we’re really proud of.”