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New Initiative Seeks to Improve Access to Care

Contact: Sharon L. Sopp, 410-740-7646, ssopp@hcgh.org

Columbia, Md.—When Floyd Westfall arrived at the Howard County General Hospital Emergency Department (ED) in early March, he was treated for a strep infection in his arm and a dangerous blood sugar level, two conditions that could have been treated earlier or perhaps avoided altogether if Westfall had a primary care practitioner, which he did not. Fortunately for Westfall, while he was in the ED, he was introduced to an Access to Care Program manager, who has since been able to connect Westfall with state and local resources that allow him to regularly see a primary care provider. His strep infection is on the mend and his blood sugar is under control.

The Access to Care Program is a partnership between Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine (HCGH) and Chase Brexton Health Services, created to address the needs of individuals who are uninsured or underinsured. The goals of this program are to improve overall public health in Howard County, increase access to ongoing primary care and link patients with appropriate community resources. 

Following a patient’s initial assessment and treatment by a clinical care giver, if the patient is identified as being uninsured or underinsured, he or she is offered information about the program. If interested, and after clinical care has been completed, the Access to Care Program manager assesses the patient’s needs and assists him or her in identifying and accessing community resources, including primary care, dental health services, behavioral health services, and more.

The Access to Care Program was created through a grant from the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission (MCHRC). Access to Care Program managers are on site at the HCGH Emergency Department during peak hours, 40 hours per week. Written materials are provided to patients if the Access to Care Program manager is unavailable.

“It is our hope that by connecting patients with the appropriate resources, including consistent primary care services, those with chronic health issues will avoid repeated trips to the Emergency Department,” explained Victor A. Broccolino, president/CEO of HCGH. “Not only will this benefit the health of these individuals, it will help us meet the needs of the broader community by freeing up space and resources in the Emergency Department to treat more urgent, rather than chronic, situations.”

Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine since 1998 is a 238-bed, not-for-profit health care provider located in Columbia, Maryland. A comprehensive, acute-care medical center, Howard County General offers a full range of services, from neonatal care and oncology to outpatient treatment and critical care.

The hospital has a professional staff of over 800 physicians and allied health professionals, representing more than 70 specialties and subspecialties; a workforce of nearly 2,000 individuals and volunteer auxilians numbering over 600.

Chase Brexton Health Services is a Federally Qualified Health Center offering a broad range of services including adult and child primary care, women’s wellness, mental health and substance abuse, dental, HIV and hepatitis C specialty care, case management, HIV and STD screening, nutrition and pharmacy services. Chase Brexton provides more than 17,000 Marylanders with compassionate, quality health care that honors diversity, inspires wellness, and improves communities. They are located at 5500 Knoll North Drive, Suite 370, in Columbia, Md. 410-884-7831.

 

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