Growing Management Infrastructure in an expanding FQHC
Expanding Health Care Coverage
March 26, 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.
In October 2011, the Kaleida Health hospital system closed the Mattina Community Health Center, a primary care clinic in the lower west side of Buffalo, due to increasing financial losses. As a result, the ratio of primary care physicians available to Medicaid-insured residents in this low-income neighborhood dropped to 1:46,885. In an area of significant need, the loss of the clinic would have a deleterious effect. In November, Neighborhood Health Center (NHC) reopened the closed clinic, keeping many of the same doctors, nurse practitioners, and dentists who had been serving the community. This grant from NYHealth enabled NHC to expand services at the site, preserving access to a range of health services in the community. The expansion also enabled NHC to serve many more patients, more than doubling its annual patient load from 11,000 to 24,000 patients.