Posts tagged with Community

Area organizations explore merge to improve community health care

Lawrence, Ks - Heartland Community Health Center and Health Care Access would like to announce that the two organizations have signed a non-binding Letter of Intent to merge. While a final decision has not been made, the two organizations have been in board conversations to explore better serving the community through a merged organization. As plans progress, the two entities are targeting January 2018 as a potential merge date.

Heartland and Health Care Access have been in ongoing discussions, regarding possible ways to join, for several years. However, the benefits of such a merger became even more evident recently, as local health care needs have evolved and changes at the state and federal levels have created increased barriers.

“This is just the beginning of something new, exciting and hopeful in health care for Lawrence and Douglas County,” said Heartland CEO Jon Stewart. “The shortcomings of our health care system have yet to be adequately addressed in Topeka, KS and Washington DC. A major part of the answer is to have a robust multi-disciplinary system of primary medical, behavioral and oral health care. Local collaboration is one attainable step in that direction.”

In the hopes of reaching more people in need of affordable, assessible health care, Heartland has tapped into the long-standing Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) model, becoming a recognized FQHC practice in 2012. Health Care Access, in recognizing the power of a shared vision, has declared their interest in joining forces to further expand this capability for the community. A merger between the two agencies would leverage the resources and assets of Heartland’s FQHC status, the 30 year service history and community relations of Health Care Access, and the supportive role of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The anticipated result is a well-supported, unified, community health access point that will provide comprehensive services to all in need.

“The potential for our organizations to leverage the talents and assets entrusted to us together is exciting,” said Health Care Access CEO Beth Llewellyn. “Along with LMH, and other health care organizations in this community, we are collaborating in ways that will overcome barriers to care and create healthier people and communities.”

Organizations, such as Lawrence Memorial Hospital, have shown support for the potential collaboration. Recent strategic planning at the hospital involved re-commitment to delivering health services when and where they are needed, forming community partnerships and working together for a seamless experience, both inside and outside the hospital facilities.

“Lawrence Memorial Hospital has an opportunity here to establish ourselves as a lifelong partner in the health of our community by supporting this collaboration and the patients these organizations exist to serve,” said Lawrence Memorial Hospital CEO Russ Johnson. “We look forward to further supporting this type of community investment.”

It will take a number of months to work through the due diligence that is required to ascertain how the two organizations might best achieve a merge.

Heartland Community Health Center serves Douglas County and surrounding areas with primary care, mental health care, psychiatry, dental care, physical therapy and a variety of assistance programs and wrap-around services. They offer care to all community members in their catchment area, regardless of income or insurance status. As well as being an FQHC, Heartland is also a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), which is a model that emphasizes patient accessibility, as well as coordinated, compassionate and integrated care to ensure that all needs are met.

Health Care Access has been a health care provider to persons with limited financial means in Douglas County for 29 years. Health Care Access’ approach emphasizes access to a continuum of community-based services in order to promote health and well-being, employing collaboration and advocacy to support their efforts. The clinic provides a comprehensive care approach with three medical provider teams, counseling, referral and wellness services. Health Care Access is also a Level 3 PCMH.

Heartland Community Health Center
346 Maine Street, Ste. 150
Lawrence, KS 66044

Health Care Access
330 Maine Street
Lawrence, KS 66044

For more information, please contact: Melanie Coen/ Communications Coordinator/ Heartland Community Health Center/ 785.841.7297 x209/ mcoen@heartlandhealth.org

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WAY better than Britney Spears… By Ali Edwards

In May 2010, just five months ago, The Leo Center was completely foreign to me. I was a student at the University of Kansas majoring in Public Relations hoping to someday live in a loft in downtown LA and eat take-out Chinese every night. I had been raised in a middle-class family in a small town at the opposite corner of the state. My brothers and I grew up with still-married parents in a nice house with nice things surrounded by nice people. When I was 18, I had gone off to college not at all worried about how I was going to pay for it. I had never been challenged in my life, and I was absolutely aware of it and grateful for it.

I had lived in Lawrence for three years without ever hearing of The Leo Center until my friend Jenny mentioned one day that she was going to head up the Diabetes Support program at some clinic downtown. We got to talking about the clinic and the holistic approach it took to heal people. It didn't just write prescriptions and send its patients along; it enrolled them in various programs to help them invest in their own health. I thought this sounded pretty cool, and I was excited for her to start her program. I had no idea that just a few weeks later I would be reintroduced to The Leo Center in a whole new way.

I went on with my normal life after hearing about The Leo Center from Jenny. I was a publicity intern for one of the biggest publishing companies in the country and was fully prepared to coast through my last semester of school. I had a plan, and it was perfect. Immediately after I graduated, I was going to pack up and move to Los Angeles where I would begin working for a party planner who plans birthday parties, weddings, and whatever other occasions famous people like to celebrate. Britney Spears is a regular client; George Clooney is on speed-dial. How could I not want to work for a company like that? This job came closer and closer within my grasp as the number of months standing between me and graduation dwindled.

It was a dream job. I had already written all my essays for the application describing how perfect I would be to work for the party planning company, but when I went back over the answers to edit them, I couldn't help but notice how they were all structured around the idea of helping people. Despite my desire to work in the entertainment industry, my mind kept floating back to the problem of poverty. A teacher in high school had always told me that if I could change the world with my job, then I should. This advice kept coming back to me with ever-increasing frequency, especially after I traveled to Haiti for a mission trip in the summer of 2009 and saw poverty first-hand.The burning trash, the distended bellies, the unclean water. All of that was poverty. The houses that I couldn't make myself recognize as houses, houses that were made out of tree limbs and hole-y blankets. This was poverty. Bathing in the ocean, eating rice and beans, watching family members die of starvation. This was poverty.

Poverty in Lawrence, though, was different. I saw the homeless people on Mass. Street everyday and even served about 150 of them breakfast every Tuesday morning at Jubilee Cafe. As far as I knew, that's what poverty in Lawrence looked like. It wasn't as bad as Haiti, and in fact, most of the people in poverty here were overweight! It didn't look like they were at any risk to starve. To me, poverty in the U.S. was homelessness, and that's where it stopped. I didn't have the means to give these people houses, so I just put in three hours on Tuesday mornings to serve when it was convenient for me. My plan was to help these people until I moved on to bigger and better things.

Fortunately God, as always, had an even better plan for me. He knew that my heart rested in event planning, but he also knew that instead of using an unlimited budget to order 6,000 different types of appetizers for P.Diddy's annual white party, my gifts would be better served trying to find a budget to help serve the 16,000 people below 200% of the federal poverty level here in Lawrence. Here's where the reintroduction to The Leo Center came in. My campus minister, a friend of Jon Stewart, our CEO, mentioned the open Outreach Coordinator position at The Leo Center one day as we were talking about life after graduation. I immediately shot the idea down, still wanting to stick with my famous-people-elbow-rubbing future. Then my minister said something that completely changed my mind. He simply stated the obvious: "Ali, this is exactly what you want to do." And it is. It's exactly what I want to do. Instead of working with people who will never know financial poverty, I discovered that I want to work with people in order to fix this poverty problem. I want to build a community in which everyone is on the same level. I sent my resume to Jon, and he got back to me saying that he would like to meet and talk about the position. We mainly talked about poverty in the U.S. being much more than a money issue. He opened my eyes to see that poverty is mostly a lack of love. We can see that people in third-world countries might be struggling to survive, but they have such tight-knit communities that the relational aspect of poverty is a non-issue. After my initial talk with Jon, I was absolutely hooked. The Leo Center was where I wanted to be. I wanted to help people out of poverty starting that same day. I was ready to dive into anything that might help the situation, so here I am now, just as excited to do this job as I was when I first met with Jon.

People can raise money to help people out of poverty, but it's going to take so much more than a couple pieces of green paper to cure this problem. Here, in Lawrence, KS, at The Leo Center, we are striving to build relationships with those in poverty. Love can do such much more than money, and we believe that with Love, with God, anything is possible. Be prepared to hear more about this Love thing, because I can't get over it.

My plan to be a celebrity event planner was a good one. But it was my plan, and as one of my dear friends once told me, "We plan. God laughs." Keep laughing, God. I like your plan better. Please join me and the rest of The Leo Center in building a true community.

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