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Heartland Community Health Center offers primary care services in the Health Department’s clinic. The goal is to make it easier for people to access such care.
"We want to knock down some barriers to, hopefully, get people into a health home," Health Department Director Dan Partridge said. "Having a health home and focusing on prevention helps identify something early before it makes a person sick or becomes a major issue; this saves money for the individual as well as the health care system in the long run. Prevention makes so much sense."
About 10,000 people use the Health Department’s clinic services each year. A survey of 424 clients revealed that 46 percent did not have a regular health care provider. The new collaboration project between the Health Department and Heartland aims to change that percentage.
"By embedding a Heartland primary care team within the operation of the Health Department, our organizations will be better positioned and equipped to reach the families and individuals who currently do not have access to comprehensive primary care services," Heartland CEO Jon Stewart said.
Heartland began offering its services in November and within a month and a half, 36 Health Department clients were referred to Heartland for help with tobacco cessation, high blood pressure, behavioral counseling, medication management, health screenings and other services.
Clinic Office Supervisor Torri Nobo said it’s rewarding to see people receive the care they need. For example, she said, a young woman drove her parents to the Health Department to get flu vaccinations. They were from India and hadn’t seen a health care provider in more than 10 years. The Health Department nurse noticed that both parents had elevated blood pressure and recommended Heartland’s services. They accepted after visiting with a Heartland provider that day. "That was really amazing. If you can get services today, that’s huge," Nobo said.
Nobo also recalled a nursing student who was grateful to be able to get a tuberculosis skin test and immunizations through the Health Department and then her health assessment through Heartland. "She was so excited to get it all taken care of in a one-stop shop, especially because she didn’t have a doctor."
Dr. Jeff Mincher, who leads Heartland’s primary care team inside the Health Department’s clinic, said having the services in the same location and immediately accessible makes a big difference. "It’s really about removing any and every obstacle preventing patients from getting the services they need."
Mincher said he is excited about the opportunity to work within the new collaboration. "To be part of something like this has been truly exciting, and I’m just looking forward to the future."