WASHINGTON, February 22, 2015 – Because healthcare affects an individual’s quality of live and longevity, the state of healthcare within a community impacts the lives of all those living in that community. It is fitting that healthcare makes up nearly a fifth of the US economy because economies should exist to provide for the needs of the people. Unfortunately, this reality does not always mean people have access to quality care.
Communities like New Castle, PA struggle with deeply entrenched financial inequality which is evident in the realm of healthcare. Instead of having a hospital in the downtown, New Castle’s main hospitals are on the outskirts of town. Additionally, much of the community healthcare needs are funded through government-sponsored health insurance programs.
Lawrence County’s aging demographics translate into a great deal of individuals relying on Medicare to pay for their healthcare needs while widespread poverty in the region means a great deal of these individuals also utilize Medicaid. Additionally, deeply entrenched poverty across all age groups leaves a significant portion of the population dependent on programs like Pennsylvania’s public assistance health insurance programs, e.g. Medicaid and CHIP. Still others pay for sporadic healthcare services as needed with cash.
Utilizing a “community health center” business model, the Primary Health Network exists to provide healthcare for underserved areas. Although quality and affordability are a part of the Primary Health Network mission, their goal is not necessary to a healthcare option for poor people. It is to serve areas where healthcare providers have not been able too survive for whatever reason.
Not only does the Primary Health Network provide care free of charge to those who cannot afford it, they also offer transportation, free of charge, for those patients who would otherwise have no way of going to their appointments.
In order to keep costs down for patients who are paying out-of-pocket, they are always seeking to improve care for their patients their innovative ideas. They even experiment with clinics in schools, so students have easy access to doctors without missing school and relying on their parents, who may not be able to miss work in order to take them to an appointment. Working with local pharmacies through the 340B program and onsite pharmacies, among other initiatives, they try to minimize the cost of medicine for those who take advantage of their services and everyone else.
Through this FocusNC conversation, Primary Healthcare was able to introduce who they are and what they do. As they grow throughout Northwest Pennsylvania and into Ohio, as well as New York, they offer a healthcare model that can be used by others to improve quality of services and access to services in areas where traditional models have failed.
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