Health Center News

Bay State Health Center Offers Relief to Crowded ERs

mendis01Community Health Centers are easing the burden on local emergency rooms in Massachusetts by opening access for more patients at Urgent Care departments across the state.  Earlier this week at a press conference, Dr. Paul Mendis, Chief Medical Officer for Neighborhood Health Plan, described the success of a pilot program to reduce emergency room utilization.

“As one of the 21 health center sites involved in the grant, Family Health Center of Worcester is an example of the success of the CHC Urgent Care Grant funding,” said Dr. Mendis. “Family Health Center of Worcester showed a 15% decrease in emergency room utilization during the 2006 to 2007 calendar year.”  That’s the biggest reduction of unnecessary emergency room visits in the state last year, saving thousands of health care dollars, and taking the pressure off crowded local emergency rooms.

The effort is part of a collaboration between Neighborhood Health Plan and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to cut ER use by helping patients with non-emergency health issues access Urgent Care at Community Health Centers.  The initiative is supported by a grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Jim Hunt, Executive Director of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers said, “It is organizations like Neighborhood Health Plan that help us put it all together in a managed care environment.” These collaborations must continue if we are to stem the tide of the rising costs of health care.”

NACHC’s own analysis revealed that nationwide $18 billion a year are wasted on unnecessary visits to hospital ERs that could have been redirected to a health center.

Photo: Dr. Paul Mendis, Chief Medical Officer for Neighborhood Health Plan, talks about the ER savings at a news conference earlier this week held at Family Health Center of Worcester.