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Four Alliance Members Awarded Over $3 Million

HHS Encourages Access to Care by Helping New Clinics Open Doors

Congratulations are in order for four HCHA members who received New Access Point (NAP) Awards in 2013 as announced by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The four community health clinics—Busy Bee Wellness Center, Spring Branch Community Health Center, Houston Area Community Services (HACS), and Central Care Community Health Center—have been awarded funding totaling $3,020,834, which will be renewed in 2014 in support of new health care delivery sites for areas where patients are under-served and uninsured.

The new clinics are strategically located to reach populations with limited transportation or other obstacles to receiving healthcare, such as language or socio-economic barriers. Following an initial round of awards announced on September 13, another round was announced November 7 to include the following HCHA-member clinics:

  • Busy Bee Wellness Center (awarded $775,000) plans to open a new clinic  in southwest Houston, serving 2,175 patients totaling 7,545 visits yearly;
  • Spring Branch Community Health Center (awarded $704,167) opened its new facility on October 28 at 19333 Clay, 77449, in Katy, serving 5,623 patients totaling 16,475 visits yearly;
  • Houston Area Community Services (HACS) (awarded $675,000), opened a clinic at 14755 North Freeway, 77090, in north Houston, serving the serving 2,750 patients totaling 9,432 visits yearly;
  • Central Care Community Health Center (formerly South Central Houston Community Health Center) (awarded $866,667) is on schedule to open a new clinic on January 10, 2014 at 14087 South Main, 77085, in southwest Houston, serving 14,087 patients totaling 23,000 visits yearly.

“What we learned by listening to our clients at our Spring Branch location and when working on feasibility studies with the Alliance, is that families with high needs in west Houston had no access to affordable care,” said Michael Smith, Development Officer at Spring Branch Community Health Center. “With no bus services past Highway 6, patients—including many children—had to travel over 16 miles to reach one of only two community health centers available in Spring Branch.”

Announcement of these awards raises the number of community health centers providing services to the uninsured and medically underserved to 28 throughout Harris County, which has more than 1 million uninsured individuals residing in its borders. Prior to 2005, Harris County had only three community health centers serving the general underserved population. A rapid expansion began in 2005 and onward, increasing the number of community health clinics to 11 in 2007, 22 in 2012, and 26 in 2013. The recent awards made by HHS will bring the total up to 30 in 2014. (Click here for a list of FQHCs in Harris County.)

“Obtaining this support has been a two-year journey,” explained Marcus Roland, CEO of Central Care Community Health Center. “When we started, our area was not recognized as economically underserved, so we worked on receiving that designation while applying for the grant.” Roland partnered with Fountain of Praise, a faith-based organization that donated the site for the clinic, which will include a wellness center to meet the community’s need for improved fitness and other preventative services.

Three of the clinics awarded the NAP Awards are already designated as Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHC), which meet stringent requirements for providing comprehensive, quality healthcare services, including primary, behavioral health and dental care. The fourth achieves FQHC designation through this grant award.

Community health centers are integral in delivering healthcare services in communities with historically high numbers of uninsured clients. While insurance for most Texans will become accessible under the Affordable Care Act, the state of Texas’ decision to reject the extension of Medicaid creates a gap for almost one million Texans who fall below federal poverty level. These Texans will not be eligible for insurance or subsidies in the Health Insurance Marketplace. For other uninsured residents who meet requirements to receive subsidies, information about health insurance options is often available at community health centers.

Nationally, the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) announced distribution of $150 million in NAP awards under the Affordable Care Act to support 236 new health center sites across the country. These investments will help care for approximately 1.25 million additional patients.