Great news from Health Care Access! The nonprofit clinic can now see another 1,000 patients a year, thanks to $300,000 in donations and grants, said executive director Nikki King. The funds support a patient-care team of three new staff members for three years.
The new team includes nurse practitioner Patricia Neis, support nurse Brenda Waite, and Marie Daniels, at the front desk. They began work today. Coincidentally, certified medical assistant Amanda Osburn also began her first day of work today, filling an existing position.
Health Care Access provides free and low-cost health care for many of the 14,000 people in Douglas County who don’t have health insurance. Until today, the clinic comprised a staff of eight and a group of volunteer physicians. In 2010, the clinic saw 1,182 patients.
King anticipates that the addition of the new staff will cut the wait time for patients from 12 weeks to six weeks and increase the number of urgent care appointments. The clinic is also expanding its hours to include two evenings a week. Starting this week, Health Care Access is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
“We’re thrilled to be able to provide this for the community, knowing that the demand has outpaced supply for a long time,” said King. “This is a big step in meeting our goals to help more people.”
The nonprofit raised $300,000 to fund the new staff for three years. They began planning to raise the funds last August and received board approval in October. One-third of the money came from private donors, and two-thirds from grants. A lead gift of $9,000 that kicked off the campaign came from Cosmopolitan International, with the support of their local clubs (River City and Breakfast Cosmopolitan Clubs). The Sunflower Foundation was the largest donor, providing $200,000.
Not only will the clinic be able to see about another 1,000 people, “we hope to see a direct impact at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital emergency room as well,” said King. “We know a lot of our patients are resorting to the ER if they can’t get in quickly.”
With 14,000 uninsured people in the region, “we could easily keep another set [nurse practitioner, nurse, and receptionist] busy,” said King. A typical nurse practitioner sees 1,200 patients a year, two or three times each.
“With health reform around the corner, nobody really knows what that’s going to do to our numbers,” she said. “At the current outlook, it will be business as usual for quite some time.”