Expanding Oral and Behavioral Health in the Hudson Valley
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 followed an earlier initiative to support community health centers and expand primary care services in four other underserved regions.
Open Door is one of the largest federally qualified health centers that provides health care for low-income patients in Westchester and Putnam Counties, with 10 sites annually serving more than 40,000 patients—many of them vulnerable immigrants, women, and children. With 93% of its patients living at or below 200% of the Federal poverty line and half of patients without health insurance, Open Door offers communities a critical health care safety net. In the Mt. Kisco and Brewster areas, there is a significant lack of providers willing to see Medicaid or other low-income patients.
With this NYHealth grant, Open Door improved capacity and access for oral and behavioral health care for low-income and vulnerable populations. Open Door planned to establish permanent dental locations in Mt. Kisco and in Brewster, which would add capacity to serve 3,200 dental patients. The dental practices would also serve as dental residency training sites—providing professional opportunities for new dentists to treat poor and uninsured patients and increase the likelihood that these new dentists will want to continue to serve vulnerable populations. In addition, Open Door planned to integrate primary care and behavioral health services, which would significantly improve care delivery.