According to numerous studies, low-income patients face incredible obstacles to accessing specialty healthcare services. As one of Greater Hartford’s Federally Qualified Health Centers, Charter Oak Health Care Center, Inc. (Charter Oak) primarily serves low-income residents with approximately 70 percent of its patients receiving Medicaid coverage. Charter Oak has been challenged to support patient access to specialty healthcare services for a variety of reasons: specialists at private practices are not obligated to see Medicaid patients, there are often long wait times for appointments, and patients sometimes are reluctant to travel to unfamiliar facilities.
Fortunately, patients of Charter Oak Health will now have access to a wide variety of specialty health care services thanks in part to a $300,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving which will pay for renovations to Charter Oak’s facility at 32 Grand Street. These funds will augment a $1 million grant Charter Oak has received through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Infrastructure Program to renovate the 7,000 square foot Grand Street building, across from its main location. The Hartford Foundation grant will help to provide greater accessibility in the new clinic including installation of an elevator and an external handicapped access ramp.
“We are grateful to the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for their generous gift and commitment to improving health care for the Hartford community, said Nichelle A. Mullins, Esq., Charter Oak’s President and CEO.”
Charter Oak began recruiting area specialists last year in an effort to provide specialty healthcare services at its main facility, starting with a cardiologist, a urologist, and a pain specialist. The facility had 6,452 patient visits for specialty care in Fiscal Year 2017. The renovated facility will allow Charter Oak to add neurology, rheumatology, chiropractic, gastro-intestinal, pulmonary, orthopedic, and dermatology services. The new facility would accommodate an additional 10,000 patient visits annually.
Charter Oak has also launched a new value-based care process which is a payment model emerging as a solution to address rising health care costs whereby providers are paid for helping keep people healthy and for improving the health of those with chronic conditions. The program at Charter Oak consists of two components: 1) improving health outcomes for all Medicaid patients in key quality measures (e.g., emergency department usage), and 2) providing extra care coordination for the most seriously ill patients. Community Health Workers will also be housed in the new facility and will be an essential part of helping patients keep and benefit from specialty care appointments.
“The Hartford Foundation is pleased to provide this grant that will leverage significant federal dollars to expand specialty services to low-income patients," said Hartford Foundation community investments officer Erika Frank. “With Charter Oak’s adoption of a value-based care model, having a wide variety of specialty care services co-located with primary care will allow for better monitoring and coordination which will result in improved outcomes for patients.”
With implementation of value-based care, in coordination with the expansion of specialty services, Charter Oak expects better patient outcomes and to expand its ability to track health outcomes.
Charter Oak plans to break ground this fall and have a certificate of occupancy for the new clinic by spring 2019.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $680 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.