To meet the unmet health care needs of the uninsured and under-insured in Wichita, four years ago the Mother Mary Anne Health Clinic, named after a long time St. Joseph Hospital administrator and leaders of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wichita, opened to provide after-hours patient care on a walk-in basis at an affordable rate, often free. After providing over 20,000 patient visits, the Sisters and the staff realized that the needs of their “dear neighbor” had changed.
|Mother Mary Ann Health Clinic|
|Translator Virdiana Villalobos and a nurse prepare for patients|
Patients who had their urgent health care need attended to, but found that they were unable to locate ongoing medical care that they could afford, began returning to the Mother Mary Anne Clinic. The Clinic staff knew that although they could provide the care, it would be urgent care. It would not be the kind of care that a patient gets when they have a primary doctor who knows them and a medical home that emphasizes prevention and follow-up treatment of chronic conditions.
Out of this need for increased access to ongoing care for the poor, a new and strong relationship was formed with the GraceMed Health Clinic, a federally qualified health center (FQHC). GraceMed currently provides medical home services, however not in a location that is convenient for the Hilltop neighborhood, a poor section of Wichita that the Mother Mary Anne Health Clinic serves. The plan is for GraceMed to take over the Mother Mary Anne Clinic. It will be able to use the current building to provide regular medical home services, including dental care, a service that the poor have great difficulty accessing, as well as the after-hours walk-in clinic dedicated to serving patients who are uninsured and underinsured. This will all be accomplished in a newly remodeled 4,100 square-foot space with nine exam rooms.
For those of you that may not have had experience with FQHCs, let me give my personal testimonial to the quality of care they provide. When I was the Assistant Administrator for Medicaid in Hawaii, the position I held immediately prior to becoming the Federation Executive Director, I received my care at one of these centers. I felt it was important to experience what my clients were experiencing. FQHCs are required to meet strict federal guidelines, including time frames for granting an appointment. I always got wonderful care when I needed it. Regular recommendations and reminders for preventative care, getting needed blood tests, and guidance on how to obtain the lowest cost, yet effective medications were always offered. From my first-hand experience of having a medical home and from the experience of my neighbors and clients in Hawaii, I fully appreciate the wonderful expansion of service that this new relationship of the Via Christi Mother Mary Anne Health Center and GraceMed offers to one of the most impoverished areas in Wichita.
This good work was advanced by our sisters but will be continued on by these new colleagues, with a little help from the Sister’s Foundation.