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Opinion: How New Horizon provides a health safety net in Greenville

Opinion: How New Horizon provides a health safety net in Greenville

Opinion: How New Horizon provides a health safety net in Greenville

Source: Greenville News
Published: August 7, 2020
By: Regina M. Mitchell, CEO, New Horizon Family Health Services
CIMS Partner Center: New Horizon Family Health Services

Community Health Centers (CHCs) such as New Horizon Family Health Services (NHFHS) have provided quality, affordable, patient-centered, comprehensive primary and preventative health care to vulnerable populations for more than 50 years and are the safety net for more than 29 million people.

In the Upstate, NHFHS has been improving the health of the communities we serve since 1992. More than 28,000 individuals rely on our organization each year to access a variety of services, including primary medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and laboratory services, regardless of their insurance status.

Our mission is to provide quality, affordable, compassionate patient-centered health care to all communities we serve. In addition to our medical offices in Greenville, Greer and Travelers Rest, our organization also operates a dental office in Greenville, two mobile medical units and a mobile dental unit.

Our Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Program provides more than 5,000 primary medical, dental and behavioral health visits annually to individuals experiencing homelessness in 13 Upstate counties.

In 2019, NHFHS partnered with Miracle Hill Ministries to launch the first in-shelter Medical Respite Care Program in the state, which reduces ER visits and hospital readmissions by providing individuals experiencing homelessness a safe place to recover after hospital discharge.

NHFHS’ Ryan White Program provides support services to more than 1,200 individuals living with HIV/AIDS each year. Services include primary and HIV specialty medical care, medical case management, prescription assistance, and behavioral health counseling. 

More than 40% of our organization’s patients are uninsured. Many struggle with social, economic or environmental factors that create barriers to health care access. Using a community-oriented approach, our organization works to address and reduce health disparities among minority and low-income patients. Patients can receive primary medical care, preventative care, health education, assistance with management of chronic medical conditions, behavioral health counseling, nutrition counseling and access to affordable prescriptions – all in one location. Our Care Management Team assists patients with issues such as lack of health insurance, transportation challenges, inadequate housing and food insecurity.

Not only do we make our communities healthier, we also stimulate local economies. Nationally, CHCs produce $26 billion in annual health system savings, reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and visits to the ER, and serve one in five Medicaid beneficiaries at a 24% lower cost compared with other providers. In the Upstate, NHFHS produces an estimated $29 million in annual savings to our local health care delivery system by offering a more cost-effective way to provide care to our community. 

NHFHS also remains steadfast to our longstanding history and commitment of the CHC Movement to advocate for social justice and health equity for ALL people. In June, NHFHS’ Board of Directors and Management released a Solidarity In Action statement denouncing racism and discrimination in all its forms.  

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the role of CHCs is even more critical to the health of our communities as newly-unemployed and uninsured persons turn to CHCs to access care. During these challenging times, our team has continued our work to ensure our patients can access primary care, manage chronic conditions, fill prescriptions and meet basic needs.

We are appreciative that Congress has included funding to support CHCs in recent COVID-19 relief bills.

However, to continue to provide these services, stable, long-term funding is needed. CHCs are partially financially supported by federal funds through the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). If Congress does not reauthorize CHC long-term funding by Nov. 30, this funding will expire.

How can you support the work we do? Join our voices by signing up as a Health Center Advocate at www.hcadvocacy.org/takeaction/.

Next week, Aug. 9-15, health centers across the country will celebrate National Health Center Week (NHCW)  and Mayor Knox White has proclaimed it National Health Center Week in the City of Greenville. I invite you to join NHFHS as we hold virtual events highlighting our services and programs and also as we recognize health care heroes on our team. To learn more , visit www.newhorizonfhs.org.

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