A group of Baton Rouge-area health care providers has received a federal Healthy Communities Access Program (HCAP) grant to expand primary care treatment for the uninsured through an improved computer tracking system.

The group that applied for and received the grant includes members of both the public and private health care sector. Members include Earl K. Long Medical Center/LSU Health Sciences Center, Lead Agent; Baton Rouge General; Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center; Capitol City Family Health Center; St. Gabriel Health Clinic, Inc.; Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Inc.; Capital Area Human Services District; Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health, Region II; and Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic. Dr. Roxane Townsend, LDH Medicaid Medical Director, is the primary investigator.

The project’s ultimate goal is to identify uninsured patients who use hospital emergency rooms for routine care and direct them to other primary care providers. Funds from the grant will help the groups establish a shared computer system to track and identify uninsured patients and then through collaboration direct the patients to the appropriate services for care.

“Many times, uninsured patients use emergency rooms for routine medical care and will go to different hospitals for treatment,” Dr. Townsend said. “Through this grant, we can provide electronic systems that will help all of us track information about those patients and their history. Therefore, if we see someone who has no insurance and has a history of using the emergency room for care, we can tell that person about primary care options and work to help them establish a primary care home.”

The grant, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, will pay $1.2 million for the first year of operation. In subsequent years, the funding will be lessened because the ultimate goal is for area health care providers to adopt and sustain the system.

“We are very excited about this opportunity because it is a chance for the public and private providers to pool our resources and provide better care to our uninsured clients,” Dr. Townsend said.