Health Center News

DE: Westside, Henrietta See Patient Upticks

By: Beau Boughamer

Delaware Online ran a lengthy piece about people in the First State who are turning to health centers during the economic downturn.  The piece put a spotlight on Westside Family Healthcare and Henrietta Johnson Medical Center and mentions the Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers.

[B]ecause of the recession, more people are losing their jobs and increasing the number of uninsured patients who rely on practices such as Westside — known as federally qualified health centers.

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“There are things going on in Delaware that are unique,” said Melissa Noyes of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers. “You’ve had a lot of larger industries that are relocating or closing and any time you have a large employer leaving or reducing the work force that often puts more pressure on the centers.”

To address the issue, the House and Senate versions of health care reform bills are poised to pump billions of dollars into health centers to help them expand services and boost staff. The bills also are aimed at providing health insurance to people who can’t afford it, meaning centers such as Westside would see more patients who are able to pay the full cost of their treatments.

The result is that Westside, the largest of the four federally qualified health centers in Delaware, hopes to expand the size and scope of its services.

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The legislation also would require any provider-care network through a health insurance exchange to include these centers and cover more people through Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor. To get more doctors to work at health centers, the legislation would help young physicians with their student loans.

Lolita Lopez, president and CEO of Westside, said that provision would make it easier for her to hire more doctors.