The Community Health Clinic (CHC) and The Community Dental Clinic (CDC) originate from a partnership between the northern Indiana Amish community and Dr. Amy Shapiro. Dr. Shapiro, a pediatric hematologist and co-founder of The Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center, Inc. (IHTC), has provided care for many Amish individuals with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders. She built trust with the community and recognized their inherent barriers to care, including transportation, opposition to insurance, and lack of access to specialized care. She also recognized that quality hemophilia care requires good dental care to reduce and prevent bleeds that require expensive treatment. With funding provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Amish community and the IHTC established The CDC, an independent 501(c)(3) rural dental clinic in 1999.
The CDC’s success led to discussions about the need for locally-available genetics care for children with special needs. Almost all Amish descend from approximately 200 18th century founders. This “founder effect,” combined with the practice of marrying only within the faith community, has led to a high concentration of genetic disorders in Amish communities. These disorders are classified as “rare” by national definition as affecting less than 200,000 Americans, yet they significantly affect the Amish population. Many of these genetic conditions, also called biochemical or metabolic genetic disorders, require costly treatments and careful management by a physician with expertise in medical genetics.
The CHC was established as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2008 and formed an Amish-majority governed Board of Directors in 2009. In January 2016, the CHC and the CDC, both located in Topeka, IN merged to increase organizational effectiveness yet continue to operate as two separate clinics.