Preserving Poughkeepsie Access to Care
Expanding Health Care Coverage
December 10, 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 follows up an earlier initiative to support community health centers and expand primary care services in four other underserved regions.
Established in 1975 in Peekskill, Hudson River HealthCare (HRHCare) has expanded to 22 sites and now delivers care to 85,000 patients throughout a 10-county region of the Hudson Valley and Long Island. In the urban community of Poughkeepsie, poverty rates are significantly higher and educational and employment levels lower than in most areas of Dutchess County. Nearly 20% of the population is foreign born and 46% of families live below 200% of the Federal poverty level.
A local hospital clinic provides limited prenatal and episodic care services, with hospital physicians rotating through and no full-time doctors serving the center on a continuous basis. At the same time, the clinic was challenged by long wait times and limited primary care. NYHealth’s grant helped support HRHCare’s acquisition of the hospital clinic, enabling HRHCare to expand the array of services and install full-time physicians. NYHealth funds were used to expand capacity, staffing, and services at HRHCare’s site to enable better care coordination for all patients and reduce the number of unnecessary visits to the hospital emergency room. The project preserved access to care for 3,500 existing patients, expanded access to up to 5,000 new patients by the third year of the project, and maintained a critical safety net for Poughkeepsie’s uninsured.