Baton Rouge --- With support from the state and federal governments, the Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Inc. has secured $650,000 to open two federally qualified health centers in the Greater Baton Rouge area. These centers receive federal funding to provide primary and preventive health care services to all patients in medically underserved areas regardless of ability to pay.
Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Department of Health Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise, and representatives for Sen. John Breaux, Rep. Richard Baker and members of the Collaborative held a press conference Tuesday to officially announce the opening of the two clinic sites.
“One of the main initiatives following the statewide health care summit was to expand access to primary and preventive care through the development of health care centers such as the ones opening in Baton Rouge,” said Gov. Blanco. “These clinics will be a godsend for thousands of our families who need and deserve better primary care. They will fill a void in the Baton Rouge community-- and they are long overdue.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration awarded only 15 grants in the nation, and the Collaborative, a partnership of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, the Mays Foundation and the Family Practice Clinic at Earl K. Long Medical Center, was the only grantee in the Southeastern United States.
With the grant money, the Collaborative plans to open two clinic locations, a community health center in North Baton Rouge and a health center for the homeless in the downtown area. The North Baton Rouge clinic will serve an anticipated 3,000 uninsured and underinsured patients in its first year of operation. The location in downtown Baton Rouge, at the St. Vincent de Paul main campus, will serve an anticipated 1,000 homeless patients.
"I think this is a great development for the capital city because there are so many gaps in the local health care delivery system, particularly for the homeless,” said Michael Acaldo, CEO of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and chairman of the Board for the Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless."
At full capacity, the two clinics will administer 7,500 patient visits annually. Services provided to children and adults will include comprehensive medical history, assessment and treatment; immunizations and other well-baby care; vision, hearing and dental screenings; radiology and laboratory services; health education and promotion; and individual case management.
Services at the two centers are expected to affect the capital area’s health care delivery capacity by increasing primary care provider time by 90 hours per week. The new health center sites also will have a projected $1 million annual economic impact on the community.
The location in downtown Baton Rouge, at the St. Vincent de Paul main campus at 220 St. Vincent de Paul Place, will serve an anticipated 1,000 homeless patients. The location in North Baton Rouge, at 1414 Fairchild St., will serve low-income, uninsured residents of the area.
The Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Inc. received $150,000 in grant funding from Louisiana Department of Health in Fall 2003 as part of an initiative to support the development and expansion primary and preventive health care access.
The grant, awarded through DHH’s Community-based and Rural Health Program, was used to cover the costs of consultants, technical assistance and legal expenses associated with the compilation and submission of the federal grant application, the development of a business plan, minor capital improvements and medical and office equipment for the two facilities.
“The opening of these primary care clinics demonstrates the value of collaboration and partnerships,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. “The result is an effort that involves several huge resources of the community, including doctors, nonprofit groups and the many levels of government. Together, we are expanding access to health care.”
For more information about federally qualified health centers, or to find out how to open one in your community, contact the LDH Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health at (225) 342-9513 or visit the Bureau’s Web site athttp://www.dhh.state.la.us/offices/?id=88.