Neighborcare Health Programs
We operate ten medical clinics in neighborhoods throughout Seattle where residents face barriers to accessing medical care. Services include preventive health care, family planning, OB and newborn care, midwifery services, pediatrics and well-child care, chronic illness management, nutrition counseling and health education, mental health counseling, adolescent medicine, and geriatric care. We deliver care with consistent professional teams who work with each other and their patients to address long-term wellness. Patients typically see the same provider care teams at every visit.
Access to affordable dental care is the number one health care access problem. Our five dental clinics provide care through consistent dental provider teams to children and adults by offering emergency services to alleviate pain, and ongoing care through treatment plans designed to help patients achieve the best oral health they can. People living with HIV/AIDS have special access to our clinics through our Ryan White contract.
School-Based Health Centers
We operate 10 school-based health centers (SBHCs), five are in middle and high schools in low-income neighborhoods, and in late 2010, we opened our first elementary school clinic. We are poised to begin services in two more elementary schools in the fall of 2013. We provide evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic issues, sports physicals, health assessments, reproductive/family planning health care, STD screening and treatment, immunizations, health education, mental health therapy, crisis intervention, and laboratory testing and dispense common medications as needed. By having SBHCs within schools, students can easily access health education and services that the schools would otherwise be unable to provide. Each one is staffed by a clinic coordinator, a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, and a mental health therapist, all of whom are trained to work with youth and culturally diverse populations.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Decreased government funding has significantly impacted Neighborcare. Nonetheless, we have maintained core services and even increased the number of low-income and uninsured patients served. In 2012, we served approximately 50,000 patients (around the same number of residents in Olympia). In 2011, we opened our new Rainier Beach Medical & Dental Clinic, increasing the number of patients served in the Rainier Valley from 10,000 to 14,000. The opening came at a time of critical community need because the area surrounding the clinic is ground zero in health disparities in the greater Seattle region. Recognizing the importance of the project, donors stepped up and contributed to the clinic's capital campaign, the most successful in Neighborcare’s history.
Neighborcare continues to be challenged by the instability of government funding during a time when our services are needed more than ever. Since 2008, the number of King County residents without health insurance increased by nearly 50,000, and in 2010, nearly 450,000 adults lost their access to non-emergent dental care, leaving them with few options for care and increasingly relying on costly emergency room visits to treat advanced dental issues that could have been prevented with routine dental care. Access to affordable dental care continues to be the most egregious health care access problem in the nation. In these difficult economic times, continued community support is necessary to ensure everyone has access to affordable quality health care, including dental. Contributions from the Seattle Foundation and its donors will make a huge difference in the lives of low-income and uninsured patients, and make our city a healthier and safer place for all.