Episode 75 - Celebrating Health Centers in Your Community
Celebrated each August, National Health Center Week raises awareness about the mission and accomplishments of U.S. health centers.
Hear from health center staff members about why they got involved in medicine and health centers, and what’s ahead for health centers around the country.
Joe: On this episode of "Putting Possibility into Practice," it's National Health Center Week, hear from providers across the country who work in health centers every day. Learn a little bit about what a health center is and why they chose to go the route of serving patients in a health center rather than a private clinic. This is "Putting Possibility into Practice" and it starts right now.
And I welcome you to this episode of "Putting Possibility into Practice" if you are a returning listener, thanks once again for tuning in. And if you are a new listener, we'll let you know a little later on how you can subscribe to our podcast, get notifications when new episodes are published, and the platforms that our podcast is available on. It is National Health Center Week. And today I am joined by a number of staff members, providers, CEOs from health centers nationwide who will share their experience of working in health centers, what makes them unique, the challenges that they face in health centers, and a little bit more as to why they got into serving their communities as a part of working at a health center rather than a private practice.
And now joining me on this episode as we continue to highlight health centers during National Health Center Week, as to when this episode is uploaded, we welcome Sandra Reyes, the Director of Patient Services for Community Health of South Florida. And Sandra, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to join us on this episode as we highlight health centers.
Sandra: Thank you very much and it's an honor to be here. Helping, working with [inaudible 00:01:39]
Joe: And talk a little bit about the health center that you are with and we alluded to that CHI. Where exactly in South Florida?
Sandra: So, Community Health Center of South Florida has 11 locations. We start from Coconut Grove and we go down all the way to the Keys. We have locations in Marathon and Tavernier.
Joe: And talk a little bit about the services that the center provides.
Sandra: Community Health Center of South Florida, it gives service to the underprivileged in South Florida. And we provide pretty much a very extensive list of services from behavioral health, family, pediatrics, ob-gyn, mental services, dentistry, and transportation. At Center, right, we also have some programs for foster care, and outreach workers, therapy. So, there's a long, long list of services that we provide throughout the center to all of our patients.
Joe: So, what made you get involved with health centers and to make a career of this?
Sandra: I started with Health Choice Network, I started working with them assisting and training Community Health Centers. And that's how I became familiar with the Federally Qualified Community Health Centers serving the underserved populations throughout the nation. The more that you see the patients that are really looking for this assistance, the more you kind of fall in love with the industry. And I can say this for a fact, nobody that works in a Community Health Center does that because of money. There's no money involved, per se. It's for the love of helping people and helping patients. So, you just start becoming more and more involved and caring about providing the best services for people that otherwise would not be able to get those services. It's very humbling to see homeless people being treated for dental services because they usually come when it's very late. So...and being treated with respect. They come for family, to see their family petitioners, they have regular patients, and the providers, the staff to treat them with the respect that they deserve. So, it's great to see...to be able to provide services to the population that a lot of people oversee.
Joe: And talk a little bit about the history of the center?
Sandra: Okay, so, the center started in the 1970s by Miss Doris Ison, and she saw the need in the community and especially in the African American Community around homestead area where patients had to walk for many, many miles to find a doctor. So, she was adamant that she was gonna get the help that it needed. She went to Washington, she became an advocate for healthcare and for these patients, and opened the first clinic, per se, but it was a trailer. It started in a trailer and it was called Martin Luther King Clinica Campesina, which we still have, it opened in 1973. And from starting in a trailer with very few people, now it's a 700 employee, large organization, and it just keeps growing.
Less and less children now are getting into Medicaid. So, those are grants, we work a lot through grants to help the different communities. We treat a lot of HIV patients. That's another community that we worked with very closely. We have providers that specialize on working with this type of patients. So, in just our center, the number of different communities that we serve it's very, very diverse. It's very diverse and challenging, but rewarding.
Joe: Keep up the great work you and your providers do each and every day. And again, thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to us on our podcast episode as we highlight health centers during National Health Center Week. And as we continue with this episode, I welcome in a couple more guests here as we highlight health centers during National Health Center Week. Who is joining me on this portion of the episode?
Dr. Kanika: Have a Dr. Kanika Turner.
Dr. Treena: And Dr. Treena Sturgeon.
Joe: And where are you guys from?
Dr. Kanika: St. Louis, Missouri. We're both associate medical directors, Family Care Health Center.
Joe: And what type of services are available at the health center?
Dr. Treena: We try to provide comprehensive services. So, primary care, ob, dental, optometry, and the pharmacy.
Joe: And as we highlight National Health Centers this week, obviously, providers in a health center, why did you choose that route for health centers? What do you enjoy the most about your job every day?
Dr. Kanika: I love the patients. I love the location. We're urban underserved clinic and so, I love being able to take care of the patients that attends our center. I also like the family feel of our center. I was a resident who did my training at Family Care Health Center. And I have decided to stay on as faculty to the university while also just staying at the clinic because I loved it so much.
Dr. Treena: My feelings are very similar to Dr. Turner, I love our patients. I think our patient population is awesome. I love working with them, and just providing access care for everybody. That's what's important.
Dr. Kanika: I agree.
Joe: And as hard to believe as it is, we head into the latter part of 2019. What are some of the challenges facing health centers like yours today? And what do you have going on at the health center that some other locations nationwide may not have incorporated into their health center?
Dr. Treena: Yeah, I think that funding is always an issue with health centers. So, we're always looking for different grant opportunities and people in the community to partner with for those opportunities. Do you wanna talk about some of them?
Dr. Kanika: Yeah, so, I think one thing that's really unique with our health center is that the integration of medication-assisted treatment into primary care. It's kind of a new, lean area in a world of Addiction Medicine. And so, I'm a big advocate for treating the patient holistically and not separating those two. And I think what our clinic is pretty neat that we have behavioral health fully integrated into our primary care services. And then now we're expanding for our physicians to also become waivered right now. We have 12 waivered physicians. We also have a residency program that's in house as well. And they are also waivered. And so, I think that's unique that we're not only training our physicians, but we're also training and working with the residents who are in a process of learning, you know, how to become great doctors. So, I think that's unique at our clinic.
Dr. Treena: Yeah, I think the residency program is really unique about our clinic. And that we're...I mean, we're influencing people who are gonna be the future doctors. And we really have a great opportunity to incorporate them in our health center, and figuring out how to take care of people and make access better.
Dr. Kanika: I agree. And then we're also...what's unique on a primary care level that we offer treatment for pregnant women. Before it was a lot of, you know, pregnant women with substance use disorders were transferred out to a specialist, like the Maternal-Fetal Medicine doctor, MFM. But actually, we have a program in place in which we retain those patients, where before we had to refer them out. And it's really neat because those same patients were also doing the newborn care where, you know, after they delivered, now we're managing other chronic diseases, we're getting the dads to come in. And so I think, from our primary care level, like we're doing some great work within the world of MAT, especially expanding services to pregnant women.
Joe: Any other initiatives and programs that you guys are taking on in 2019, or maybe in the next year?
Dr. Kanika: Well, we have another one with our syndrome pregnancy initiative. Me-syndrome pregnancy is you know, across the country, like prenatal groups, for pregnant women. But what's unique is that we partner with a few community organizations and academic centers to incorporate trauma-informed care. And so, for that, I think that's a really unique model to have trauma-informed care into syndrome pregnancy, to help improve those pregnancy outcomes for our moms. And so, that's something new and unique that we're also partnering with, in St. Louis.
Joe: Great. Well, I wanna thank you both for taking time out of your day to guest on our podcast. As we highlight health centers during National Health Center Week. Keep up the great work you're doing in St. Louis, and serving your patients each and every day.
Dr. Kanika: Thank you.
Dr. Treena: Thank you.
Joe: I'm joined by the CEO of Genesis Community Health, DeAnna Warren, DeAnna, and I thank you for taking time out of your busy day to join us for this podcast episode as we highlight health centers.
DeAnna: Thank you for having me.
Joe: A little bit of background about Genesis Community Health, where are you guys located and the size of the center?
DeAnna: So, Genesis Community Health is one of the newer health centers here in Palm Beach County, Florida. We were funded actually starting in 2010, by a local foundation, and then in 2012, we got federal funding as an FQHC. And we are a small health center, we have four sites in which we serve over 6000 patients. And I will say new to this coming fiscal year for us, we're opening two school-based clinics.
Joe: And talk a little bit about those school-based clinics.
DeAnna: So, we're gonna be co-located within two local high schools. They're pretty large high schools about 2500 Kids a piece for each school. So, we're gonna be providing primary care, we also have social work. And then we'll also help if there are any uninsured, you know, students, we'll help them apply for health insurance. So, we are trying a one-stop shopping, we will also be having dental hygienists come through to do some dental assessments, then, if further care is needed, then they'll be referred to one of our dental clinics.
Joe: And during National Health Center Week, as we are in, with the upload of this podcast, talk a little bit about working with health centers and what it means to you being a part of a health center and community outreach like you just talked about being in the schools too?
DeAnna: Well, Community Health Center seems to be in my blood. I grew up in a rural area. So, in terms of health care, that's all we had was a community health center. So I know the impact, you know, of what a community health center could be or what it could mean for community. You know, over the last nine and a half year seeing patients that they either hadn't seen doctors in years going into churches, we've gone to various settings, schools, to provide outreach and bringing those individuals into the health center to receive care. So, you know, it makes you happy when you see children that have never gone to the dentist, get care, get those teeth clean, or seeing patients that have never had a pap smear, women that are, you know, needing mammograms, helping them get free or low-cost mammograms. It just means the world to see, you know, to help other people live their best healthy life.
Joe: And what are the challenges affecting health centers today that you see as a CEO?
DeAnna: Funding. Of course, for us, number one is funding. And that we have a lot of patients that are really, really sick and they need a lot of specialty care, we can't provide that. So, going out into the community and trying to find specialists that will donate some of their time that will volunteer. New to Genesis for this year, we're gonna start having some specialists volunteer their time to provide consultations to our uninsured patients because, again, they cannot afford to pay the doctor's visits out in, you know, out in the community. So, trying to bring some specialist to volunteer their time to help see our patients.
Joe: Well, DeAnna, I wanna thank you for taking the time out of your day to join us on this podcast. As we highlight health centers as a part of National Health Center, keep up all the great work that you are doing over at Genesis Community Health, excuse me. And we will certainly get together again to hear more about the center and all the greatness that you guys are doing in the community. And in the outreach.
DeAnna: Well, thank you for having me and best of luck.
Joe: And now I'd like to welcome to this episode of "Putting Possibility into Practice," Yolette Bonnet, she is the CEO of FoundCare, Inc. And Yolette, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to join me on this episode.
Yolette: My pleasure.
Joe: As we highlight health centers during National Health Center Week and beyond, tell us a little bit about the health center that you are at, where you're located, and some of the services that you provide the community?
Yolette: Okay, at our health center, we are the company...we actually became FoundCare, Inc. about I would say 2002. Prior to that, we used to be called the Comprehensive AIDS Program of Palm Beach of County, Florida. And we realize that to stay relevant within our community, we needed to just move organization away from just disease-specific but into a Federally Qualified Health Center. In 2010, we became a FQHC look alike the first in the whole state of Florida. We were a trailblazer in that. And then in 2013, we received a full FQHC.
And since then, we've served last year over 15,000 unduplicated patients for about 70 plus thousand visits. And we anticipate that this year, we will probably increase the patient, our patient to about 20,000. So, we've been growing rapidly because of the need in Palm Beach County. So, most of our services are the basic such as pediatric, adult medicine, behavioral health, integration of behavioral health infectious disease, because we started as the AIDs service organization. And so, I am a founding executive member of FoundCare. Prior to FoundCare, as I mentioned, we were called the Comprehensive AIDS Program. And so, FoundCare was created in 2002. And I've been the CEO since then. And we're located in about seven locations in the county. And we're continuously growing.
Joe: So, you talk a little bit about the growth, the increase in patients. And maybe this leads into the next question, challenges facing the health center.
Yolette: Well, unlike other counties in Florida, we're right here in Palm Beach County. I mean, "Hey, you are here, right? This is Boca. But not everything looks like this." So, we have pockets of underserved communities. So, we're strategically located in the pockets of the undeserved such as the Belgrade Area, North Palm Beach close to Waiver Beach Area, we're in Palm Springs Green Acres area. And we basically put toward into it, because that's where the needs are in this several other needs. So, similar to the fact that a lot of people wanna come for this beautiful weather and, you know, in the affluent communities, but we have very large groups of people that serve them who does not have access to care or health insurance. So, the beauty of having an FQHC in your community is that regardless of your ability to pay, we don't turn you away. So, that's the challenge, because the Affordable Care Act is kind of falling along the wayside as they tweak it. So, that also then increase the number of folks who do not have health insurance.
Joe: So, why health center? And you say a founding member, so, obviously, there's an invested interest, you know, in finding such a great organization and health center. So...
Yolette: Well, I'll tell you, I was a young mother, prior to becoming a CEO. I had three kids by the time I was 26. And I basically went to health centers to get six services for my children. And so, I always feel that and I tell my staff all the time, "We don't serve those people, we are those people." So, for me, Health Center is a mission. It's not just a job. And so, I'm passionate about what we do. Because every day I see those people, they may never know my name, per se, but I'm actually helping a family fulfill their dreams.
Joe: And as we move towards the end of 2019 and beyond, what's in store for the health center moving forward?
Yolette: Well, I think for...I can't speak about all the health centers because most people will tell you, you see a health center you see Health Center. But, for FoundCare, I can tell you that we will continue our growth. We are strategically looking at the zip codes that would need access to health care because transportation is sometimes is lacking in our county. And so, we have about...we just purchased a brand new building, we're in the process of renovating the building, we just applied for new funding from the HRSA, the last RFP, so, we're waiting to see whether we receive it. And so, continue the growth in terms of serving the community.
Joe: I tell you what, what a great story has to get involved with health centers and we wish you all the best and your staff, keep up the great work that you do in serving your community. And we'll definitely get in touch again to highlight some of the great work your providers are doing each and every day.
Yolette: We enjoy it every day. Thank you.
Joe: And I wanna thank all our guests on this episode of "Putting Possibility into Practice" as we continue to celebrate all that health centers have to offer during National Health Center Week. And if you wanna learn more about health centers and health center week, you can visit healthcenterweek.org. And for more information on solutions and services that Greenway Health is proud to partner with health centers for, you can visit our website at www.greenwayhealth.com. If you haven't yet done so, I invite you to subscribe to our podcast on your platform of choice. "Putting Possibility into Practice" is available on a number of podcast platforms including iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, FM.player, SoundCloud, Lipson, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, and iHeartRadio. This has been another episode of "Putting Possibility into Practice". Thanks for listening.