Sometimes what appears to be a stroke of bad luck turns out to be good news in disguise.

That's how Mike Keller, Newton Medical Center's chief operating officer, feels about a joint project between NMC and Health Ministries Clinic to bring a primary care clinic to Halstead. Keller said the hospital ran into complications when trying to pursue a clinic project on its own but is now even more excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Health Ministries.

"By partnering with Newton Medical Center and building on an established practice of a current private practitioner, we believe we will be able to more effectively and efficiently meet the health care needs in the Halstead area," said Health Ministries Clinic executive director Matthew Schmidt. "We are very excited to be part of a collaborative solution to a community need."

"If you can work together, ultimately the community is better off," Keller added.

Keller reports NMC had been looking at expanding physician coverage to Halstead for more than a year, but the collaboration between NMC and Health Ministries came about within the last few weeks. Health Ministries Clinic provides medical, dental and behavioral health services in an integrated setting, including services for those with limited financial resources.

NMC had been looking at buying property and ran into zoning obstacles. Then, they heard about potential interest from Health Ministries in the project, and doors began to open.

"It was opportune that the zoning obstacles delayed us," Keller said. "... I think this is the best option."

Newton Medical Center, Health Ministries Clinic and Diane Steeves, APRN, have signed a letter of intent to develop plans to collaborate and operate the primary care clinic in Halstead. The future medical clinic will be operated by Health Ministries, and Steeves will continue to treat patients in the new clinic. In addition, an NMC physician also will be available.

"We realized we all had similar goals related to ensuring everyone in the Halstead community had access to quality health care," Schmidt said.

The new clinic will be at 126 Main St., where Steeves practices now. The organizations hope to open the new clinic in the late summer or early fall. They plan to obtain accreditation and licensing for the clinic, in addition to remodeling and expansion work.

Although Health Ministries and Newton Medical Center have had a long relationship, this is the first time they will be formally operating a clinic together.

"We've always wanted Health Ministries to be a strong community partner," Keller said. "They serve a need that's not always met by other clinics in Newton."