East Arkansas Family Health Center is currently working with the Phillips County Planning Committee to establish a Community Health Center location in Helena. The Phillips County health center site will be a satellite health center location of East Arkansas Family Health Center, which is based in West Memphis.
East Arkansas Family Health Center is currently working with the Phillips County Planning Committee to establish a Community Health Center location in Helena. The Phillips County health center site will be a satellite health center location of East Arkansas Family Health Center, which is based in West Memphis. East Arkansas Family Health Center will compete for funding through a grant proposal to be submitted to the Health Resources Services Administration and Bureau of Primary Health Care. The grant proposal is due Dec. 15; and, if funded, would help offset the costs for starting and maintaining the operations of the health center in Helena. The planning committee, along with EAFHC, is also working to obtain additional resources to support the future health center.
Phillips County’s planning for a health center began in September 2008, when the Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Inc. received a Planning Grant from HRSA to work with Phillips County to determine the feasibility and to plan toward a Community Health Center in the area. A Planning Committee was formed and began the process of building the infrastructure necessary for the establishment of a CHC. In May 2009, the Planning Committee vetted several options, including the three nearest Community Health Center organizations (East Arkansas Family Health Center, Lee County Cooperative Clinic, and Mid-Delta Health Systems.) The Planning Committee presented their recommendation at a public meeting held June 4. During the meeting, citizens in attendance endorsed the Planning Committee’s recommendation that EAFHC be the parent company for establishing the Helena West Helena/Phillips County health center.
EAFHC has extensive experience with developing and managing community health centers. EAFHC currently operates 4 locations including the West Memphis site, which has been providing services for 36 years; the Lepanto site, which has been in operation 33 years; the Healthy Partners in Blytheville health center opened one year ago; and, the recently opened Truman Family Health Center location.
Since its inception, EAFHC has consistently provided primary care services to the uninsured, under-insured, and the underserved residents of the Delta Region in Northeast Arkansas. This includes, but is not limited to, on-site lifecycle-based primary health and dental services, health education, diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure screenings and chronic disease management, as well as referrals and coordination of services required to ultimately improve the health status for the target population. The Center provides education to the community regarding HIV risks and offers access to primary care and case management services when a person is diagnosed HIV positive.
According to Dr. Susan Ward Jones, chief executive officer for East Arkansas Family Health Center, “The overall purpose of the project is to offer a gateway to healthcare services for Phillips County residents who currently have limited access to affordable, comprehensive and continuous primary and preventive healthcare. As a native of Phillips County, Dr. Jones remains indebted to the cause of bringing affordable, quality, health care to its residents. Her mother, Betty Ward, and family still reside in Helena and are very motivated by the decision to open a community health center in Phillips County. According to Dr. Jones, “I am really looking forward to serving the citizens of Phillips County”.
The Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Inc. identified Phillips County in their statewide planning assessment of Arkansas counties as an “area of need” for additional healthcare resources. According to the Phillips County 2009 Needs Assessment, conducted by Capital Link, Phillips County exhibits severe health disparities related to the lack of access to health care and the economic status of their populations. By HPSA (Health Professional Shortage Area) definition, Phillips County is populated by low-income, at-risk, vulnerable individuals experiencing significant problems accessing health care services. To further illustrate the vast health care needs of the community, Phillips County exceeds the State’s average for heart disease, all cancers, accidents, chronic lower respiratory diseases, influenza and pneumonia.
EAFHC anticipates the Helena/West Helena health center location will open with six full-time employees, to include one Family Practice Physician, one LPN, a medical records clerk, a receptions/intake clerk, an enrollment clerk and a lab assistant. The EAFHC Helena health center location expects to generate 4,180 encounters during the first year; and in keeping with its tradition, EAFHC projects to add additional patient encounters each year thereafter.
The proposed Community Health Center would open in late spring or early summer 2011.