Improving the health status of the medically underserved by providing extraordinary service.
By Lorin Vargas
In 1992, Holmes Regional Medical Center created project HOPE (Health Outreach Prevention and Education) to provide follow-up services to uninsured patients following emergency department visits. The first clinic, at University Park Elementary School in Melbourne, opened in 1994 with a group of volunteer physicians and nurse practitioners from HRMC.
A Medical Partnership
In 2004, recognizing a significant opportunity to expand services to the community, project HOPE applied to HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) to become a Federally Qualified Health Center. Project HOPE was supported by a community stakeholders group and Health First leadership. Upon receiving approval, HOPE became The Brevard Health Alliance, Inc. (BHA), receiving significant federal funding and enhanced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. Each of these benefits was designed to enable BHA to significantly expand health services to Brevard County’s uninsured and underinsured citizens.
In late 2005, BHA assumed operations of the Wuesthoff Wellness Clinic, then a not-for-profit organization, and expanded BHA services into Central Brevard County. In late summer of 2010, BHA assumed the operations of the Parrish Medical Center Community Medical Clinic, receiving substantial, continued financial support and substantial free diagnostic support from Parrish Medical Center. Through the support of Parrish Medical Center, this acquisition allowed BHA to complete a key objective of offering services throughout Brevard County. The leadership of both Parrish Medical Center and Wuesthoff recognized the potential of a private-public partnership to leverage their investment in community health improvements.
No one is turned away due to an inability to pay, and this is what truly sets the BHA clinics apart from other health services. The mission of BHA is to improve the health status of Brevard County’s medically underserved populations by providing extraordinary quality of service and care in the areas of primary healthcare, dental healthcare, mental healthcare, preventive services, and educational services.
Brevard Health Alliance also features mobile units, which deliver services to citizens at numerous locations throughout Brevard County. Currently, they provide healthcare services for about 2,500 Brevard County citizens that present as homeless. The portable units run Monday through Friday, and times vary upon location. A calendar for each month is provided on their website and via social media accounts. No appointment necessary – the mobile vehicles deliver on a first come, first served basis.
Brevard Health Alliance began operations on March 7, 2005 with 16 associates and a desire to improve the health of the medically underserved population of Brevard County. Today, they employ 275 associates and have registered approximately 101,000 patients. Since beginning, they have opened six medical clinics across the county and provided medical, dental or behavioral health services to more than 101,000 individual Brevard County citizens. The clinic has also provided more than 851,000 medical, dental, behavioral health or enabling encounters to patients, discounted services by more than $34,000,000 to Brevard’s citizens, and provided more than $53,750,000 in free medications to patients (as valued at average wholesale price).