Heath clinic clientele, services continue to grow, CEO reports

A year has already gone by and client base continues to grow. Howard County Health Care Center is moving forward and expanding services and staff. Dr. Judith Madura, CEO of Howard County Community Health Clinic, spoke on progress made during the first year at the center during the State of the Community Series Part 3: Medical Update. “We were able to open our doors last July for the medical portion of the facility,” Madura said. “We had hoped to secure additional funding for the expansion of the rest of the facility for dental, pharmacy and optometry, but didn't have the funding at the time.”The medical facility, with one full-time practitioner, has continued to show growth during the past year with 2,100 patients having been seen at the clinic for a total of more than 4,000 visits. In the past three months, two additional funding sources were secured, which will be used to help expand the local center to include the dental clinic, optometry unit and pharmacy. Funding came through government funding for immediate facilities improvement, which was marked as the last round given to health centers. “We are expecting to be open and functional by the first of the year in the dental clinic,” Madura said. The dental clinic is projected to be a four-chair operatory unit, with full-time dental hygienist and full-time dentist on staff. Once opened, the facility is expected to be able to provide services for the majority of dental care. In addition to the service and space additions, a new provider — family practitioner — will be coming on in the next few weeks which will double capacity for seeing clients. Also in recent weeks, a second nurse practitioner has been added and has already compiled a full list of clients. “The client base is really starting to come to the center and I think once the dental clinic is open it will only further grow,” Madura said. There are nine employees at the health center, with an additional four coming on next month and seven more in the next three months. Due to the growth, the interior will also have to be remodeled. “We will be incorporating another nurse's station and remodeling to ensure patient privacy,” Behavioral health services were also added this year, with a counselor coming in once a week.Optometry is projected to be open in the next two months and will include an optical dispensary and contact lens dispensary. This will enable the clients of the health center to get their glasses and contacts right on site.“Just as all our services are, the optometry, dental and optical and contact dispensaries will also be on the sliding pay scale,” Madura said. “It is figured by the family size and income. Every client is eligible to receive those discounts.”The pharmacy —class A — is schedule to open in the next couple of months. A full-time pharmacist and three pharmacy technicians will be included in the staff. There will be several assistance programs made available through the pharmacy as well, according to her. Those programs will include, 340B program, Pfizer Share the Care and Astrazeneca federal assistance program.“There will be assistance programs that the client can apply to themselves or we can submit on their behalf which will expedite that process. When they may not qualify for 340 B medicines, they may qualify for some of the brand name medications we can get for less than wholesale costs,” Madura said. Access point funding, obtained recently, will allow purchase of an electronic dental health record system which will interface with the medical electronic record system and help tie all the locations together. “This way, any patient seen in any of the sites, their records will be able to be accessed from any site immediately in our system,” she said. “We are also looking at becoming involved with the Health Information Exchange in the state, which will tie medical and dental records to be shared with other entities within the state.”Next year, the goal is to double the number of patients seen in the facility. Projected goals are 3,700 dental clients, 1,200 dental clients and 1,200 optometry clients. At this rate, it is expected the pharmacy will be filling 100 to 150 prescriptions per day. “It is going to get really busy with us. Recruiting is going well, but we are still looking for a dentist. We do have some leads, but hopefully we will have that secured in the next few months and be able to move forward,” Madura said. Howard County Community Health Center is located at 1300 S. Gregg Street. For an appointment or more information, call 432-517-4557.