Building Capacity to Preserve Primary Care on Long IslandFacing unprecedented budget deficits, Suffolk County on Long Island could no longer afford to operate primary care centers in six locations: Brentwood, Patchogue, Shirley, Wyandanch, Riverhead, and Amityville.
Hudson River HealthCare
Advancing Primary Care
August 2014 – October 2015
Facing unprecedented budget deficits, Suffolk County on Long Island could no longer afford to operate primary care centers in six locations: Brentwood, Patchogue, Shirley, Wyandanch, Riverhead, and Amityville.
Together, these centers serve more than 53,000 mostly low-income patients. The clinics were at high risk of closing and leaving tens of thousands without access to primary care. Hudson River HealthCare (HRHCare) is a federally qualified health center (FQHC) network with a proven track record in acquiring and successfully transitioning troubled health centers into strong and sustainable FQHCs while simultaneously enhancing the services provided by them.
At the urging of the New York State Department of Health and local county officials, HRHCare sought to undertake a substantial primary care expansion by transitioning the six Suffolk County centers into its FQHC network—an expansion that represents a 50% growth in the number of patients it serves. NYSHealth awarded HRHCare a grant to successfully integrate the new clinics into its organizational structure.
Outcomes and Lessons Learned
- Successfully transitioned all six Long Island primary care centers that faced closure into its network, helping all sites gain FQHC status and become financially sustainable;
- Expanded capacity and services to include behavioral health services to patients at all sites;
- Applied for patient-centered medical home (PCMH) recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance for all sites (two sites achieved level-3 PCMH recognition);
- Entered into new managed care contracts to secure improved reimbursement rates for the sites;
- Shared findings on the impact of the transition with Suffolk County’s Legislature and Department of Health Services; and
- Shared information, tools, and best practices with hospitals and health centers interested in transitioning primary care service sites into FQHCs.
Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: The Long Island Community Foundation contributed $25,000 to this project. Furthermore, the Riverhead site received a $400,000 New Access Point grant from the federal Health Resources & Services Administration. After expanding HIV primary care services at five of the sites, HRHCare received a $925,975 grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program in 2015 to support quality care to people living with HIV. Combined, the project resulted in more than $1.3 million federal funds being leveraged.