GraceMed announces a bold, multi-faceted initiative to remove obstacles between the underserved and their healthcare.
“While they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The officer said, “Look, here is water. What is preventing me from being baptized?”
It’s a familiar story: the divine appointment Philip had with the travelling Ethiopian. It’s remarkable for the way God moved Philip to just the right place at just the right time and for the opportunity that presents itself as they approach the water, again at just the right place and just the right time.
At GraceMed, we have learned over the years to listen for God’s direction as to where we are to go to make healthcare as easy to access for the underserved as that conveniently appearing water.
“It’s the reason for every move we make at GraceMed,” said Venus Lee, CEO. “To put ourselves in the best position to increase access to care for the underserved. Sometimes that means opening a new location, and sometimes it means adding new services.”
Then there are those rare occasions when the the mission calls for both. And then some. After many months of research and planning, GraceMed is about to move in no less than three directions at once to expand our service to the underserved.
Direction 1: A New Wichita Clinic
The neighborhoods surrounding the intersection of Woodlawn and Lincoln have essentially become a medical desert over the years with a shortage of primary care facilities to serve more than 21,000 households with a median income of about $40,000 annually. Some residents have been relying on GraceMed’s Mother Mary Anne Clinic which is just north of Via Christi Ascension St. Joseph Hospital. There are many more, however, for whom transportation to that location can be difficult.
It’s just the kind of neighborhood and need which GraceMed is called to serve. We are currently working on acquiring a site in the area that will become our 13th Wichita clinic later in 2022. “We have the expanded network of locations that we have because we prayerfully followed God’s leading to get closer to patients who need us,” Venus explained.
“This southeast Wichita location will provide convenient access to affordable care for residents in that area and we’re looking forward to the impact that will make on their health.”
Direction 2: More Phones to Answer the Call
But our plan is to acquire a property that will provide far more room than the typical GraceMed satellite clinic would occupy. That’s because we have a dual purpose for the building that includes moving our call center there and expanding to handle an additional 7,000 calls per month.
“Access starts with a phone call,” said Clanita Jiggetts, Chief Compliance and Quality Officer. “We’ve experienced a surge of calls that seems reflective of a higher demand we can expect for the future, and we just can’t keep our patients waiting. We need to be available when they need us, and this new call center will give us that increased capacity.”
Direction 3: Out of Court and into Care
Like the pieces of a Rubik’s Cube flipping into place, moving our call center creates new space in our administrative center. It’s not space that will be empty for long because we already have plans to put an entirely new service in its place.
The service is called Medical-Legal Partnerships. If it sounds a little complicated, that’s only because it is. Just as complicated as the lives of many of those who live out on the margins can get.
“Trouble seems to gravitate to people in trouble,” said Rochelle Bryant, Director of Community Cares at GraceMed. “It’s one of the really frustrating realities we have to deal with when we try to reach out to underserved populations like the homeless. They often have a full complement of legal issues that are piled up on top of their socio-economic ones. It makes it very hard to get them the help they need.”
The solution that has been catching on among community health centers around the nation has been to build up an in-house resource to provide legal counsel and assistance to patients to help them resolve the judgments, court orders, and other legal troubles that can hinder our efforts and theirs to improve the quality of their lives.
“This is an idea that has been in the works for some time,” Venus said. “We will be working to bring all the pieces together well into the next year, but with the purchase of a building, our feet will be set on the path to make it happen.”
And once GraceMed is there, to borrow from Philip’s story, what is to prevent you from getting the care you need.
This post originated in our State of Grace quarterly news magazine. If you would like to receive the magazine, please visit this link and give us your information. Thanks!