Aligning Priorities with Expanded Capacity
Expanding Health Care Coverage
March 16, 2012
Successful implementation of Federal health reform will require expanded primary care access for the estimated 1.2 million New Yorkers who will gain health insurance coverage and for the 1.4 million who will likely remain uninsured.
Community health centers—ranging from a storefront free clinic to sophisticated operations running facilities across a multi-county region—are on the front lines of primary care. But many community health centers struggle with low margins, limited funding, and growing demand. When health reform is fully implemented, community health centers are expected to double capacity to serve 3 million New Yorkers.
NYHealth issued a Request for Proposals and awarded 10 grants to help community health centers in four medically underserved regions—Long Island, Western New York, Central New York, and the Finger Lakes—take practical steps to build capacity to better meet the growing need for primary care services.
The Finger Lakes Community Health (FLHC) provides primary care services including medical, dental, and behavioral health services to rural residents in five counties—Wayne, Ontario, Yates, Cayuga, and Steuben—via five sites. They provide a range of services, including a migrant health program and innovative telehealth services. The FLCH clinical staff capacity is stretched across a 5,300-square-miles region that is both vast and challenging, as the Finger Lakes themselves impede patients’ easy access to health care service. FLCH’s administrative staff also faces key decisions as they complete major site expansions in the region, overcome barriers to recruitment to a rural region, coordinate services among far-flung sites, and plan in ways that ensure maximum use of their limited space and staff. This NYHealth grant supported a smart growth approach that will ensure effective deployment of health care services, recruiting strategies, and long-term planning.