January 22, 2013
SIU Center for Family Medicine Designated a Federally Qualified Health Center
The Springfield Center for Family Medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine will be able to treat more patients, especially the uninsured patient population, thanks to a federal grant that designates it as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). The grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was effective June 1, 2012, and totals $595,833 for the first year. The Center began formally seeing patients as an FQHC on October 1, 2012.
More patients will be able to be added to the more than 17,000 patient base established at the Center, 520 N. Fourth St. in Springfield, according to Dr. Janet Albers, chief executive officer of the center. She said at least 2,000-3000 additional patients, many uninsured or underinsured, can be served initially. An estimated 30,000 Sangamon County residents are uninsured.
“We are a community health center here to serve the people of Springfield,” Albers said. “If patients don’t get regular and consistent care, it increases the patients’ suffering and strains the patient care system overall. We are responsible for a healthy community.”
Certified by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Patient Centered Medical Home, the Center offers a spectrum of services, including prenatal care and deliveries, well child care and immunizations, chronic illness management, preventive and geriatric care. Many procedures are performed at the Clinic. The Center’s providers care for their patients when hospitalized, in nursing homes and also visit patients in their homes when needed. Behavioral health providers deliver integrated care on site. It will continue to provide additional services such as the Centering Pregnancy program, a partnership with the Sangamon County Department of Public Health. “We have a long history of community outreach and collaboration,” Dr. Albers said.
The Center has added a Monday night health clinic from 4-7 p.m., in addition to its Wednesday evening clinic. Orthopaedic and gynecology consult clinics will begin in March.
The FQHC designation allows for improved reimbursement for Medicaid and Medicare patients, the addition of services and enlists quality measures. The clinic will see patients regardless of their ability to pay and provide a sliding scale up to 100 percent of the costs. “We hope people will refer people they know who don’t have health insurance, but we also want people with insurance to know that they can come here for their health-care needs,” Albers said.
Additional staff has been hired to fill in gaps in the services, including three new physician providers and one mid-level provider to meet the expected increase in patients. Other new hires include a care coordinator, a financial counselor, an outreach coordinator and a director of quality.
The Center, now solely a part of SIU School of Medicine, will partner with SIU HealthCare for additional physician and management services. Dr. Michal Dynda, assistant professor and chief medical information officer and Dr. Laura Loesel, associate professor and chief medical officer, will ensure the Center continues to meet quality measures.
Iris Wesley, chief financial/operating officer, said the Center will be able to reapply for grant funding after the two years, possibly receiving an additional three to five years of funding.
SIU School of Medicine is a public medical school established in 1970 and focused on the health-care needs of downstate Illinois. An international leader in medical education, the school is based in Carbondale and Springfield and is specifically oriented to educating new physicians prepared to practice in Illinois communities. Since opening, more than 2,400 physicians have graduated from its program. Its web site is www.siumed.edu.