Our latest data note updates previous findings on the impact of COVID-19 on community health centers. The data note is based on survey data collected by HRSA, as reported for June 12, 2020. Community health centers quickly pivoted to telehealth and COVID-19 testing activities and have now tested more than 1.1 million patients for COVID-19 infection. Still, as states reopen and plan for an increase in pent-up demand for health care services, the latest data indicate that 1,529 sites, or about one in eight sites nationally, remained closed, and average weekly visits were 30 percent lower than pre-COVID 19 visits, with 40 percent of visits delivered via telehealth. While site closures and visit declines have lessened over time, and it is difficult to draw conclusions from cross-sectional weekly surveys, the data continue to reflect the toll that COVID-19 is having on health center capacity, staffing and health center operations, and the implications for funding.
The data note was produced by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative.
The Teaching Health Center Program in a Global Pandemic – New Blog
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a critical need for both improved access to primary health care services and community-wide partnerships to support public health efforts. The Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program is designed to train primary care residents in community-based settings, and retain medical talent in those areas of the country where they are most needed. If adequately funded, it is well poised to help support these needs now and in the future. During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, THC residents have adapted to their circumstances and exceeded expectations, by staffing various COVID-19 needs in their communities, immersing themselves in telehealth, and working with state and local public health efforts to implement testing and screening programs in record time. THCs and their residents will continue to be critically important on the front lines of COVID-19, especially as health center program sponsors struggle to address immediate financial losses and the lasting impacts of the pandemic. The capacity of THC programs for rapid innovation and adaptability could translate into positive changes for the very foundations of primary care and residency training, and help provide the workforce needed to address community shortfalls, but permanent and stable funding beyond the current November 30, 2020 program authorization is essential.
The blog was authored by Milken Institute SPH colleagues Marsha Regenstein, Ted Epperly, Cristine Serrano, Jennifer Trott, and Alexis Acosta.
Read the blog, “An Unexpected Education: Teaching Health Center Training in a Global Pandemic” here.
In the News:
Urban Health Plan, Inc. (Bronx, NY) is featured by News 12 The Bronx in this great story on how the community health center has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepared to welcome patients as Phase 2 reopening launches in NYC. RCHN CHF President and CEO Feygele Jacobs provided additional background for this story, “Bronx community health center keeps patients safe with new measures.”
In addition to our program-specific grantmaking, RCHN CHF is pleased to support COVID-19 relief efforts targeted at supporting health centers and the communities they serve. Our recent gifts include support for the Direct Relief’s Covid-19 Fund for Community Health and the New York Community Trust Covid-19 Emergency Fund.
Top of the reading stack
In Support of Continuous Coverage – The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of health insurance, and the challenges of maintaining coverage. Continuous coverage for Medicaid enrolees during the COVID-19 pandemic is a feature of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which temporarily increases the federal Medicaid matching rate, provided that states offer COVID-19 testing and treatment and provide continuous coverage for care. In a new working paper, Continuous Medicaid Eligibility for Children and Their Health – Working Paper, prepared for the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, our GW colleagues Leighton Ku and Erin Brantley examine the effects of 12-month continuous Medicaid eligibility for children. Their analysis suggests the value of maintaining continuous coverage beyond the current public health emergency.
And from the Commonwealth Fund, Why We Can’t Rely on Health Insurance Alone to Guarantee Universal Immunization Against COVID-19 by Sara Rosenbaum, Sabrina Corlette, and Alexander Somodevilla.
Health Center History – Our CHroniCles #MembershipMonday Spotlight!
LifeLong Medical Care, situated in the California Bay Area, was founded in 1976 by a group of Gray Panthers, senior advocates who realized that the area’s growing low-income, aging population did not have access to essential health care services. Together, they developed the Over 60 Health Center, where older adults could receive support and quality health care. This first clinic evolved into the non-profit community health center network, known today as Lifelong Medical Care.
Beginning with the addition of the Berkeley Primary Care Access Clinic in 1991 and West Berkeley Family Practice in 1995, Lifelong has expanded to meet the needs of the broader community and people of all ages, offering primary and preventive care, as well as behavioral health care services including counseling and recovery support. Today, Lifelong offers primary care health services, dental including dental vans, immediate urgent/care centers, school-based health, the LifeLong Supportive Housing Program, an Adult Day Health Center serving Marin County, and continues to run the Over 60 Health Center. The organization has earned widespread recognition for creative approaches to community health challenges, including the needs of the low-income elderly, people with disabilities, and high-risk pregnant women. They remain committed providers and advocates for continuous improvement in the health of the communities they serve.
Read the full profile on CHroniCles and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be in the spotlight!
And more history – the RCHN CHF Timeline
Since our founding in 2005, the RCHN Community Health Foundation has engaged in a diverse range of projects, providing funding and technical assistance, supporting academic research, inspiring collaboration, developing and assembling resources, and promoting the story of health centers’ unprecedented accomplishments. Our new timeline, showcases the reach of our work as the nation’s only foundation dedicated to community health centers. Take a look back through our history and collaborations, and see what we have been working on this year. More to come so make sure to check back for updates! View our full timeline here.