Health First and Brevard Health Alliance Use Mobile Clinics to Oﬀer Free and Discounted Care
Health First’s mission, “Our team positively changing the health and well-being of you and your family through excellent and compassionate health care” reinforces its commitment to the community it serves. A recovering economy, the high cost of health insurance coverage, unemployment, the cost of medical liability, along with a substantial increase in Brevard County’s population, are a few of the factors threatening access to medical care. Unfortunately, decreased access to healthcare can result in potentially severe social and health consequences.
In many instances, hospital emergency rooms are used as a medical safety net for those unable to aﬀord medical care. Not only is this care expensive, it doesn’t ensure the continuous, well-rounded care that patients need to remain healthy, particularly for the children in Brevard County.
In 2005, Health First’s Health, Outreach, Prevention & Education (H.O.P.E.) program transitioned into the Brevard Health Alliance (BHA) to become a Federally Qualiﬁed Health Center (FQHC) to help meet this need by providing access to aﬀordable care for all residents of Brevard County, including pediatric clinics dedicated speciﬁcally for children. The vision for this initiative was led by the leadership at Health First, which invested ﬁnancial resources and “in-kind” support such as oﬃce space and computer software. Since that time, BHA has procured millions of dollars of additional funding to expand access to primary care throughout Brevard County. Today, Health First and Parrish Medical Center together provide more than $2 million in annual cash donations that directly support the BHA.
The Brevard Health Alliance currently consists of six clinics and two mobile units. All clinics have adult medicine, pediatrics and behavioral health, and one oﬀers dental care as well. Care is provided to all patients regardless of insurance status, with uninsured patients receiving care on a sliding scale, ranging from no cost to $50. On-site case managers assist patients in applying for programs such as Florida KidCare, Medicaid, prescription assistance programs, and other public programs.
The objective of the clinics is to provide patients with a “primary health care home.” One of the greatest challenges for patients in Brevard County is a lack of comprehensive care for underlying chronic diseases. Many patients seeking emergency care have no “medical home” for follow-up care, medications and care management. As a result, many patients wait until their condition worsens before seeking care in the emergency room. Under the umbrella of the BHA, these patients have access to primary care services, immunizations, medications, education, lab and diagnostic tests. BHA also oﬀers additional services such as nutrition counseling, assistance in managing weight and participating in exercise programs, addressing an unsafe environment that may include domestic violence, and more.
As Brevard County’s only FQHC, BHA maintains a unique partnership between Health First, Parrish Medical Center, Brevard County and the federal government. Since the BHA began treating economically disadvantaged residents in March 2005, which includes a patient base of uninsured growing at a rate of 35 percent annually for the last four years, more than 48,000 individual patients have received the following services:
- 176,729 medical/dental encounters;
- 1,819 behavioral health encounters;
- 29,108 case management encounters; and
- $22.2 million in free medications (through pharmaceutical assistance programs).