Interfaith Community Health Center Programs
Interfaith responds to the large – and growing – unmet need for primary medical, dental, and behavioral health services among low-income and uninsured people. Our efforts to provide more services to more people – in a more efficient way – are summarized well in the following three programs.
Mobile Dental Program
Interfaith’s dental team includes a mobile program that visits schools and day care facilities (including HeadStart locations) throughout Whatcom County. Children in these remote locations are among the least likely to see a dentist. By going to where they are, our dentists provide sealants and fluoride varnishes on-site, and provide referrals to children in need of additional care. Another dental initiative, the Donated Adult Dental (DAD) program holds special clinics on Saturday’s for low-income adults. In 2012, 28 volunteer dentists saw 163 patients, thus providing donated services valued at $44,431.
Emergency Room Diversion
Interfaith recently participated in a two-year Emergency Room Diversion pilot project. The results were excellent: a dramatic reduction in unnecessary ER visits; more effective case management of high-use patients; and improved coordination between Interfaith and St. Joseph Medical Center. Together with our partners, we continue to improve the systems required to limit expensive and unnecessary ER usage.
Integrated Behavioral Health Program (IBHP)
Interfaith’s Integrated Behavioral Health Program (IBHP) provides group therapy to help people address behaviors (diet and exercise, e.g.) and conditions (diabetes, anxiety, and depression, e.g.) that negatively impact their health. The groups help build a social network for isolated individuals and provide peer support for successfully changing behavior. The overall goal is to increase patient engagement and self-management, enhancing their health, safety, stability, and sense of well-being.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
We completed a major expansion of our medical clinic in Bellingham in February 2013, increasing our capacity to care for over 3,300 new patients. The project’s next phase – building our first in-house pharmacy – will be complete in July 2013. The pharmacy will reduce patient costs, and improved provider-pharmacist coordination will lead to better care. We have raised $2.9 million of the $3.15 million total project expenses.
Interfaith is working to implement the “Triple Aim” of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement: improve quality, increase patient satisfaction, and reduce the cost of care. Key to these efforts is the smart use of new technology such as our Electronic Medical Record (EMR), which improves tracking of chronic conditions, prompts clinicians to promote prevention, and provides patients with personalized information they can easily understand and use in their daily lives. We believe that these efforts will be rewarded in June 2013 with Interfaith receiving recognition as a Patient Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
With our expansion complete, and with large changes to health care at the national level, Interfaith is preparing for unprecedented growth. Providing thoughtful, preventive care – rather than reactive treatment – for 18,000 patients will be challenging. Ensuring that none of our neighbors fall through the cracks will be harder still. To be effective, we will continue to coordinate with our partners in the local health care community; collect and analyze population level data; and educate our patients about prevention and assist them with goal-setting.