Great Grants: The Family Care Center of Lorain
CBS News recently reported that an additional 6 million individuals in the United States lost their company-sponsored insurance last year, adding to what was already a national crisis. Luckily, here in Lorain County, the Family Care Center of Lorain (FCCL) exists to support those on Medicaid, Medicare, or who have no health insurance. Although patients without insurance are asked to pay $10 for a medical appointment, those who cannot pay are never turned away.
“The Family Care Center of Lorain is one of only 21 federally qualified health centers in Ohio. We were created in 2002,” says Stephanie Wiersma, Chief Executive Officer. “Our mission is that we’re committed to respecting the dignity of every person, while providing comprehensive and compassionate primary health care to the people of Lorain and surrounding communities regardless of ability to pay.” The Center acts as a non-profit outpatient health center offering family medicine, ob/gyn care, dermatology, and confidential treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. It operates two locations, the main on Livingston Avenue in Central Lorain, the other in South Lorain. Approximately 12,500 individuals are using the FCCL annually for their health care needs, and, with regular, preventative care, costly trips to hospital emergency rooms are avoided. The FCCL also offers transportation to its locations for medical appointments so that those without a car can still receive care. Future plans include the addition of dental services in 2005.
“Most funding for the center comes from billing for services through either Medicaid or Medicare,” says Wiersma. “We also follow a federal sliding fee scale for the uninsured.” Support is also offered from Community Health Partners who provides emergency, inpatient, and diagnostic services for FCCL patients. “The Center’s roots are from the former St. Joseph’s hospital, and it is through us that the hospital can continue fulfilling their mission of providing care to all who need it.”
In 2003, the FCCL received a grant of $42,000 from the Community Foundation to hire a bilingual registered nurse educator. This grant was generously supported by the Kathryn C. and Frank J. Nichols Fund, North Ohio Heart Center Fund, and the Dorothy and Elizabeth King Memorial Charitable Fund. “Because over 35% of our patients are Hispanic, we needed someone who could communicate with them, especially those who did not speak any English”, says Wiersma. “Our nurse provides one-on-one patient counseling, small group teaching, and outreach into the Hispanic community.” The most common diagnosis at FCCL is diabetes, with hypertension following closely. The bilingual nurse practitioner is able to work with those who need treatment plans to manage these diseases and provides them with materials written in Spanish.
Henry is a great example of a patient who benefited from FCCL’s care. Henry suffers from asthma and possesses a love of dancing. He was kept on the sidelines at daycare, though, without the right medication to control his condition. FCCL’s nurse practitioner listened to Henry’s needs, changed his medication and made sure that he was safe to dance at daycare. Now, Henry enjoys dancing with the other children, is getting regular exercise, and his chronic illness no longer interferes with his “dance fever”.