Expanding Capacity in Two Adirondack Communities
Expanding Health Care Coverage
December 17, 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.
In September 2012, NYHealth issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) and awarded six grants to help community health centers take the practical steps needed to build capacity to better meet the growing need for primary care services. The RFP focused on supporting projects in five medically underserved regions—Southern Tier, North Country-Adirondacks, Capital District, Central Leatherstocking-Catskills, and Hudson Valley. This RFP followed an earlier initiative to support community health centers and expand primary care services in four other underserved regions.
The largest rural federally qualified health center (FQHC) in New York State, Hudson Headwaters Health Network (HHHN) provides comprehensive primary care services to 70,000 patients at 15 sites, totaling nearly 300,000 visits annually and reaching more than 50% of the region’s population. With this NYHealth grant, HHHN undertook two projects to expand primary care capacity in the region. In the northernmost region of the State, between Plattsburgh and the Canadian border, there is just one primary care physician for 1,200 square miles, in a service area with a high percentage of individuals above the age of 65 and a median household income 26% less than the New York State overall average. HHHN partnered with this primary care physician to convert his practice into a new community health center. With these grant funds, HHHN sought and secured a bigger location for a replacement health center to double capacity to 7,000 patients.
The second project expanded OB/GYN services in the Glens Falls region. In this community, more than half of childbirths are covered by Medicaid, but this special Medicaid coverage is typically limited to six weeks after delivery, making ongoing care services difficult for these women as uninsured patients beyond that period. HHHN used NYHealth funds to partner with an existing OB/GYN practice in the area to expand critical women’s health services to 3,000 new patients.