Expanding Primary Care in Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties
- By: NYSHealth
- Date: March 2014
- Priority Area: Advancing Primary Care
- Type: Grant Outcome Reports
- Category: Grant Outcome Report
- Grantee Name: Southern Tier Community Health Center Network, Inc.
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act is expected to bring an influx of newly insured people into the primary care setting. Consequently, increased primary care capacity is needed, both to care for the additional patients and to ensure a strong safety net for those who remain uninsured. Southern Tier Community Health Center Network, Inc., (STCHCN)—an Article 28 clinic and federally qualified health center with three operational sites in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties—serves a vulnerable community with significant primary care shortages. More than 35% of its target population lives below 200% of the federal poverty line, and a substantial proportion of the population is uninsured. As the only community health center in its two-county region, STCHCN’s services are in high demand; however it faced a significant lack of resources and physical capacity needed to serve the community. To help bolster the capacity and expansion of community health centers in medically underserved regions of the State, the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) issued a request for proposals, Promoting and Managing Growth at Primary Care Centers in Four Regions of New York State. Through this initiative, NYSHealth awarded STCHCN a grant to expand primary care capacity for patients with limited access to culturally competent, affordable, and high-quality care in Allegany and Cattaraugus counties.
Grantee: Southern Tier Community Health Center Network, Inc.
Dates: March 2012 – November 2013
Grant Amount: $100,000
Grantee Website: http://www.sthcs.org/sthcs/
Grant ID: 11-00861
Outcomes and Lessons Learned:
During the grant period, the State revised the Certificate of Need process for primary care providers, including community health centers, which reduced the costs associated with the application and approval process. This policy change enabled STCHCN to direct grant funds to additional activities to build the new site’s capacity and meet other expansion needs, which included:
- Creating awareness of the new site through a marketing campaign targeted at former, current, and prospective patients;
- Increasing the number of nursing staff members to serve more patients; and
- Expanding telemedicine capacity among specialty physicians to enable urban-based specialists to serve rural patients.
As a result, STCHCN achieved the following outcomes:
- Expanded from a 6,900-square-foot site to a new facility of 10,000 square feet with 18 examination rooms, 2 treatment rooms for minor medical procedures, and a multipurpose room to offer more amenities for improved patient treatment;
- Experienced a 20.7% increase in patient visits with 24,351 visits in the first 10 months of the year and more than 900 new patients. The majority of this growth came from the expanded Olean site, which saw an increase of 674 new patients in 11 months;
- Increased marketing efforts to ensure community awareness of the expansion and received local and regional media attention;
- Added nursing staff members and new physicians to ensure patients received adequate and efficient care; and
- Expanded telemedicine capabilities to allow staff members to access trainings electronically. STCHCN plans to use its expanded telemedicine capabilities to provide other health care providers with greater access to resources, such as continuing medical education classes or emergency medical service trainings.
The new facility in Olean, which opened in May 2013, is in more highly trafficked and accessible location for patients. It also is located near other agencies that serve local residents, including Social Security Administration, New York State Department of Labor, Cattaraugus County Public Defender, Cattaraugus County Mental Health Association, and Southern Tier Healthcare Systems.