Two Primary Care Clinics Open in Lane County
Trillium Community Health Plans provided nearly $2 million in grants to open two primary care clinics last month in Lane County enabling more doctors to treat the growing Medicaid population.
Earlier this year, Trillium had 13,000 members without a primary care medical home, said Debi Farr, Trillium’s director of public and government affairs. So the CCO gave grants to existing health clinics to open new facilities and hired a consulting firm to analyze how primary care physicians can be more efficient and serve more patients.
Still, about 5,000 to 6,000 members do not have a primary care physician, but these new clincis are filling the gap. “We will have all of those unassigned members assigned by the end of the year,” Farr said.
The Lane County clinic-Delta Oaks opened with a $1 million grant from Trillium and Springfield Family-Centennial Clinic received an $800,000 grant.
“I don’t think that we would have had the funds and the courage to do it without the significant contribution from Trillium,” said Jane Conley, practice administrator at the Springfield Clinic, which has 8,000 new patients and intends to hire five more healthcare providers this month, including a psychologist.
A new clinic made it easier to integrate mental health with the physical health services. “It takes longer when you’re trying to make new habits in a long standing clinic,” Conley said.
Trillium also gave the Oregon Integrated Health clinic a $100,000 grant in 2014 to open a clinic in early 2015.
Because of the Medicaid expansion, Trillium has faced a shortage of primary care physicians. The CCO had 57,000 members at the end of 2013; today it has nearly 100,000.
It’s also difficult to recruit physicians to Lane County. “We find that younger providers would prefer to live in Portland,” Farr said. “It’s been a challenge as primary care is essential for good health.
“Access has been our number one priority for the last two years,” she added. “It’s really important for members to have access to a primary care provider because that’s who really takes care of their overall health. That is the way they manage disease, the way they keep from getting sick, the way they have important screenings, getting flu shots. A primary care provider is your first line of defense.”
Shelby can be reached at [email protected].