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New Grants Awarded to Expand Community Health Center Capacity, Patients’ Access to Care

April 5, 2012 (New York) – To meet the growing need for access to primary care services throughout New York State, the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) has awarded 10 grants totaling nearly $1 million to expand the capacity of health centers. The grants will 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 care for more patients, expand existing sites, establish new sites, and/or increase the range of services provided.

“Community health centers are jewels in the crown of our health system, providing high-quality, affordable, and accessible primary care to millions of New Yorkers,” said James R. Knickman, President and CEO of NYSHealth. “As demand for services grows, health centers play a critical role in expanding primary care capacity.”

When health reform is fully implemented, community health centers are expected to double capacity to serve 3 million New Yorkers, but many struggle with low margins, limited funding, and growing demand. An analysis by the Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) conducted with NYSHealth support found that nearly half of community health centers in the State lost money in all or most of the seven years included in the study. Further, operating margins at health centers have fallen precipitously and many of them have little cash on hand. To make the most of the expansion opportunities before them, centers need adequate resources to plan, manage, and sustain their growth.

The new grants will support a range of activities to help health centers in underserved areas meet growing demand for services: clinical and business planning; real estate assistance; workforce recruitment and training; management infrastructure; and consolidations.

For example, the Family Health Network serves Cortland and Cayuga counties, where dental services are extremely limited, especially for Medicaid patients. The Network will use its NYSHealth grant to hire the dental staff needed to begin seeing patients at a new clinic in Moravia, in southern Cayuga County.

Finger Lakes Community Health (FLCH) in Penn Yan provides services across five rural counties, spanning 5,300 square miles. As FLCH expands its sites throughout the region, the NYSHealth grant will support long-term business planning and recruitment efforts to ensure the system grows itself in a smart and sustainable way.

In the lower west side of Buffalo, the closure late last year of the Mattina Community Health Center led to a significant deficit of primary care in the area. With funding from NYSHealth, Buffalo’s Neighborhood Health Center, which has reopened the closed clinic, will expand its services and more than doubling its annual patient load, from 11,000 to 24,000 patients.

Projects were selected through a competitive Request for Proposals and reviewed by a panel of NYSHealth staff and external reviewers. The 10 projects are:

Central New York

East Hill Family Medical, Auburn, NY, Expanding Primary Care through the Integration of Services

Family Health Network of Central New York, Cortland, NY, Clean Teeth = Better Health: Rural Dental Expansion

North Country Children’s Clinic, Watertown, NY, North Country Adult Care

Syracuse Community Health Center, Syracuse, NY, Syracuse Community Health Center, Inc. Expansion Initiative

Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes Community Health, Penn Yan, NY, Aligning Priorities with Expanded Capacity

Oak Orchard Community Health Center, Brockport, NY, Preserving and Expanding Primary Care Capacity in Wyoming County

Regional Primary Care Network, Rochester, NY, Utica Community Health Center Business Plan Development Project

Long Island

Hudson River HealthCare, Peekskill, NY, Preserving Primary Care Capacity in Coram

Western New York

Neighborhood Health Center/Northwest Buffalo Community Health Care Center, Buffalo, NY, Growing Management Infrastructure in an Expanding FQHC

Southern Tier Community Health Center, Olean, NY, Primary Care Expansion in Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties

The New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) is a private, statewide foundation dedicated to improving the health of all New Yorkers. Today, NYSHealth concentrates its work in three strategic priority areas: expanding health care coverage and reducing costs; improving diabetes prevention and management; and integrating services for people who cope with both mental health and substance use disorders. The Foundation is committed to making grants, informing health care policy and practice, spreading effective programs to improve the health system, serving as a neutral convener of health leaders across the State, and providing technical assistance to our grantees and partners.