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Addressing Workforce Shortages at Federally Qualified Health Centers

  • By: NYSHealth
  • Date: September 2017
  • Priority Area: Advancing Primary Care
  • Type: Grant Outcome Reports
  • Category: Grant Outcome Report
  • Grantee Name: Community Health Care Association of New York State, Inc.

Overview

The Affordable Care Act greatly increased the number of New Yorkers served by federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). To provide care for the newly insured and to create a strong safety net for those who remained uninsured, FQHCs needed to increase their capacity to provide quality primary care. An NYSHealth-funded report, developed by the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS) in 2013, was the first-ever New York State plan to identify ways for existing health centers to increase productivity and fill vacancies among clinical provider staff. One of the report’s key findings was that expanding established provider recruitment and retention programs to fill existing vacancies could produce 720,000 more visits for more than 155,000 patients. In 2015, NYSHealth awarded CHCANYS a grant to take action on the report’s findings and address workforce shortages identified in the statewide plan.

Grantee: Community Health Care Association of New York State, Inc.

Dates: October 2015 – March 2017

Grant Amount: $ 350,000

Grantee Website: https://mhaofnyc.org/

Grant ID: 15-03598


Outcomes and Lessons Learned:

  • Provided technical assistance to 63% of FQHCs in the State to help them take advantage of recruitment and retention programs (exceeding its goal of 50% of all FQHCs);
  • Provided in-depth technical assistance to 11 high-need FQHCs in Central and Western New York to create and implement new recruitment/retention processes (exceeding its goal of 5 high-need FQHCs);
  • Increased FQHC participation in scholarship and loan repayment programs by 59% (exceeding its goal of 10%);
  • Conducted a workforce survey, in collaboration with the Center for Health Workforce Studies, to identify recruitment/retention needs and trends, as well as use of and challenges to service-oriented programs; and
  • Released a report in August 2017, “FQHC Utilization of State and Federal Loan and Scholarship Programs to Support Clinician Recruitment,” with recommendations for improving FQHC recruitment and retention strategies.

 

As FQHCs are often understaffed and have to balance many competing priorities, CHCANYS was not able to receive as many completed workforce surveys from the FQHCs as it had sought. Scheduling time with the FQHCs for coaching calls, meetings, and on-site visits to provide technical assistance also proved difficult. Some health centers were also resistant to new recruitment strategies; most FQHCs focus on recruiting mission-driven candidates for employment. Although important, this focus sometimes excludes attention to the possibility of new compensation options.

Based on the number of scholarship and loan repayment program applications successfully accepted, CHCANYS estimates that if all placements were filled, the subsequent providers could help serve an additional 200,000 patients. However, some of these programs’ application guidelines, deadlines, and funding limitations were problematic for FQHCs. For example, the application cycle for Doctor’s Across New York (DANY) was inconsistent and its requirements changed, making it difficult to educate FQHCs about this opportunity. However, CHCANYS provided DANY with recommendations for improvements intended to make it easier for FQHCs to apply in the future.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: N/A