While elected officials across the country are debating solutions for health care, Community Health Centers already address the most pressing concerns through their quality, innovative and cost saving care. Moreover, our community has been benefiting from GraceMed, Health Inc. Earlier this month, community health centers across the country celebrated National Health Center Week, August 4-10.
Health Centers are an American success story — saving lives and stimulating local economies. They are locally run yet part of a national network that serves one in 12 Americans or 28 million people nationwide.
They are not ordinary medical clinics; they are also problem solvers who reach beyond the exam room to address what may be the cause of illness — environmental factors, such as homelessness, stress, substance abuse or illiteracy.
Topeka and Shawnee County residents of all ages, income levels and regardless of insurance status can benefit from a community health center here in the state capital. GraceMed, a Wichita-based community health center, has been providing care for the past three years at two clinics in Topeka.
We want to thank local, state and federal leaders and community members for being so supportive of the safety net system transition in our community.
The Shawnee County Commission took a bold step in 2015 in allowing the community health center make the move to GraceMed. Community health care partners Stormont Vail Health and University of Kansas Medical Center-St. Francis Campus have continued to be supportive of the operational transition, along with many other community partners.
Because of these changes, the safety net system is stronger and offers more services to those who sometimes struggle to access health care.
GraceMed Health Clinic, based in Wichita, brought its proven model of care to Topeka in July 2016. In just three years:
• The number of patients served has increased by 64%.
• Patients now have access to dental and vision care in addition to medical care.
• The oral health outreach program has grown from less than 20 schools in the first year to more than 30 in its third year.
• Four-thousand more patients were seen between the two clinics when comparing first quarter 2018 to the first quarter of 2019.
• And throughout the system, additional supports are in place including behavioral health consultation, prescription assistance, and referral support, as well as outreach programs to help people enroll in Medicaid, homeless grant funding and pastoral care.
The opening of the Capitol Family Clinic, 1400 S.W. Huntoon on Aug. 13, 2018, was made possible through the generous support of more than 250 organizations, foundations, local businesses and corporations, as well as many individuals.
Lastly, we are thankful for the dedicated staff in our clinics, who strive each day to provide compassionate care for those who walk through our doors and for their dedication to helping our community be healthy and strong.
Alice Weingartner is the director of community development for Topeka.