OHSU Family Medicine At Richmond Expands Services

04/25/05    Portland, Ore.


OHSU Family Medicine At Richmond Expands Services, Increases Patient Visits By Poor, Uninsured People

Eight months after getting federal assistance to help poor and underinsured patients,  Oregon Health & Science University Family Medicine at Richmond in southeast Portland has expanded its services, increased the number of patient visits, and plans to add new patient exam rooms.

Last August, Richmond family medicine, 3930 S.E. Division St., became a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Look-Alike. This designation allows Richmond, a nonprofit health care center, to provide comprehensive primary care to vulnerable patients regardless of their ability to pay. The federal government compensates the health center more fully for Medicaid and Medicare patient costs. OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond serves an area defined by the census tracts surrounding it in southeast Portland. 

Last month the health center had a record number of patient visits at 2,744, up from about 1,800 visits per month a year ago. The number of uninsured patient visits increased by 6 percent. The center has added a mental health counselor; a nurse practitioner with expertise in diabetes and pain management; a medical social worker to help coordinate patients' housing, transportation, food and other needs; and  weekly acupuncture and musculoskeletal clinics. A $60,000 CareOregon grant was given to develop a pharmacy specifically for uninsured patients through which prescriptions will be a fraction of the retail cost.

Although part of OHSU, the Richmond health center is overseen by a board of community volunteers. It also actively works with its neighbors and businesses in its community.

"I think affordable health care is an overarching problem. We all have to be part of the solution in any way we can. I think the Richmond health center is doing everything in its capacity to nibble on that problem," said Nancy Wilgenbusch, president of the Richmond clinic board and president of Marylhurst University.

The community support for the Richmond health center is also a part of what makes the center a success.

"Now we have a lot of talking back and forth between the business and neighborhood communities. Now we realize we really needed this health center. These uninsured patients are our neighbors. The communication between us has been a wonder," said Jean Baker, president of Division Clinton Business Association. The health center lends its conference room to community groups for meetings,  shares its parking lot for neighborhood events, and consults with each other on neighborhood issues.

OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond has plans to remodel the clinic to add three new exam room by next month, and five more plus a mental health counseling room by Spring 2006. It also plans to add needed specialists. OHSU established the OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond in 1995.

"We are trying to bring services on site that match the needs of our patients. The pieces have fallen into place very nicely. There's been  an amazing amount of community support. Our board has been very active in making this happen. It's been a thrill for all of  us involved in this. This shows the mission of OHSU to work with the community to continue our care for the uninsured," said Ann O'Connell, R.N., M.S.N., executive director of OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond.