Hill Country Memorial is partnering with Frontera Healthcare Network to expand health services that have been provided through the HCM Community Health Center since the 1990s.
This initiative is a response to recent health care reforms, and is designed to bring a broader spectrum of services to the community, according to HCM Executive Director of Integration and Outreach, Emily Padula, RN, MHI.
“Due to changes coming with the Affordable Care Act, the state of Texas lost federal funding previously used to support clinics like ours,” Padula said. “Rather than leave low-income patients without needed health services, we approached Frontera Healthcare Network about forming a collegial partnership to expand those services for the community. They are able to provide the services we had been providing in addition to primary care for Medicaid patients.”
According to Padula, the HCM Community Health Center has provided health services and education for low-income residents since 1996, when it began as an outreach program of the hospital. Since then, it expanded into a busy full-time clinic, caring for those who were eligible for some state funds. Most commonly accessed services at the clinic include women’s health screening, contraception, testing and treatment for most sexually transmitted diseases, cervical, breast, and testicular cancer screening and treatment, and prenatal care. Client fees have been based on family size and income, and assessed on a sliding scale. Frontera will provide most of these same services and will have similar charges.
The clinic is located on Industrial Loop in Fredericksburg, adjacent to The Good Samaritan Center. Padula noted that the Good Samaritan Center is an independent charitable clinic, receiving community and church funds, and targets its services to uninsured individuals who are not eligible for government programs. The hospital continues to help support the mission of that clinic, whose patients will not be affected by this change.
“Good Samaritan is a great partner for the hospital,” Padula said. “We support them with discounts for lab and radiology services, and many of HCM-affiliated physicians volunteer their time at their clinic. We are grateful to have a partner like them who provides high-quality care to our neighbors without any health care funding.”
John Willome, Executive Director of the Good Samaritan Center, agrees that Frontera will augment health services in the region. “We are grateful that Hill Country Memorial and Frontera came up with this arrangement. The fact that the new clinic will see Medicaid–and eventually Medicare–patients meets a huge need for our community. We currently have a difficult time finding primary care resources for Medicaid patients, and Frontera’s success will allow the Good Samaritan Center to remain independent from government funding as we try to help our uninsured patients as efficiently as possible.”
With the approaching changes in the ways federal funds are allocated, the hospital looked at options to ensure high-need patients would continue to be served, without diverting existing community grant dollars. Padula said the Community Health Center averaged about 3,000 patient visits per year. Frontera Healthcare Network will continue to serve those patients and others, while opening new federal funding streams.
HCM will continue to operate the Community Health Center through July. The clinic will transfer to Frontera Healthcare Network on August 1, with plans to begin seeing patients on August 26. Information on hour and days of service will be released at that time.
“We are excited about all this expansion of services will provide for the community,” Padula said. “The same services will be offered in a more sustainable way, with new services added, and more federal dollars coming into our community. The hospital will continue to partner with the clinics, and we believe it will benefit all of our organizations to collaboratively meet the needs of our community.”
James Partin, MD, Chief Medical Officer at HCM, noted that physicians often refer discharged patients who don’t have a family physician to the Community Health Center, and will continue to do that.
“The clinic will be a medical home for discharged Medicaid and self-funded patients,” Dr. Partin said. “It will be easier for them to find a place to go, and local physicians can focus on seeing their current patients.”
According to Frontera’s Executive Director, Cam Kleibrink, Frontera Healthcare Network started as a three county collaborative in 2005 with Concho, Menard and Mason Counties. In 2012, Frontera expanded to two adjacent counties, Kimble and McCulloch. The mission of Frontera Healthcare Network is to provide quality, accessible, and affordable primary health care to the residents of Frontera’s service area
“One of the key vision points was to extend services to adjacent underserved areas and expand medical capacity,” Kleibrink said. “We are very excited to be able to partner with HCM in expanding to Gillespie County. We attribute our success to collaborative efforts of communities committed to serve the members of the community.”
Carol Freeman, CNM, FNP, MPH will be the primary provider and all medical services provided at the clinic will fall under the medical supervision of a physician.
Contact the Community Health Center by calling (830) 992-2593.