The Seward Community Health Center will be meeting today, April 19 at 6pm at Seward Mountain Haven Conference Room. Public is welcome.
Community Health Care in Seward:
This is the first in a series of articles aimed to inform and educate the residents of Seward about the status of healthcare in Seward and efforts to improve access to quality care in the future.
At the present time Seward has a number of health care providers including, but not limited to: Seaview Community Services for Behavioral Health; Dr. Michael P. Moriarty for dental; Chugachmiut NorthStar clinic for tribal beneficiaries; Glacier Family Medical Clinic; Seward Public Health Nurse; and the City of Seward through a management contract with Providence Hospital providing services including hospital, emergency room, and all outpatient services including the primary care clinic.
A community needs assessment conducted in 2008 indicated that there is a need to increase access to care. More than 20% of Seward residents do not have medical insurance. Even those insured may have high deductibles or co-payment requirements. 67% of respondents to the survey indicated that they could not afford to pay for medical care they needed and many reported that they simply did not seek medical care, prescription medications or preventive exams due to cost. So while there may be providers in Seward, there is a large segment of the population who cannot afford to see those providers.
The cost of providing health care is high, especially in small, remote communities. How can providers in Seward continue to offer quality, affordable care to all residents? The City of Seward hired a financial consultant to study this question in 2010. The consultant’s recommendation was to investigate the HRSA Section 330 Community Health Center (CHC) program because of the program’s direct funding to the community and enhanced reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid. This infusion of funding into the local health care market will have a positive impact in the community. In addition, the program requires a full spectrum of primary care services including follow-up care for patients with chronic conditions. CHCs are expected to serve as a medical home. CHCs also offer discounts to patients based on family size and income.
The CHC program is community based and receives federal funding. Clinics must be owned by private non-profit organizations, tribal entities or units of government. The organizations must have a board of directors made up of people from the area, with at least 51% of board members who are patients or parents of patients at the clinic. CHCs must offer discounts to patients who are below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (for example, a family of 4 earning less than $57,640 per year would be eligible for discounts.) The CHC application process is very detailed and applicants compete at a national level for initial funding. Once funded, organizations receive ongoing annual funding. This program has been in existence for over 45 years and funding is very stable, regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are running the country. Go to www.bphc.hrsa.gov/about for more information.
In 2011 the City of Seward was awarded a planning grant from the Community Health Center program to determine if the CHC program would be a good model for the community of Seward. The City authorized the creation of the Seward Community Health Center organization whose board of directors lead this effort.
Next article topic: Who/What is the Seward Community Health Center and What Does the Planning Grant Involve?
Do you questions or suggestions for future segments? Contact the Seward CHC board members at firstname.lastname@example.org.