Five health care agencies in the Capital Region have received $7.4 million in state grants to support upgrades, officials announced.
* Ellis Hospital received $5 million for its project to convert the former St. Clare’s Hospital into a medical home, a facility designed to provide primary care services in one setting to infants, teens and adults with no or little insurance.
* The Center for Disability Services in Albany received $1.3 million to upgrade its Center Health Care facility for the disabled.
* Hometown Health in Schenectady received $498,000 to strengthen women’s health care services.
* Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood received $500,000 to relocate its Albany health care center.
* St. Peter’s Hospital received $140,000 to expand its dental clinic.
The state grants are designed to pay for projects to restructure primary care services, state Department of Health officials said.
These grants are funded through the Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers, passed in 2006. The law authorizes the state to appropriate or bond up to $1 billion for projects that support the mandates of the Commission on Health Care Financing in the 21st Century, also know as the Berger Commission.
Dr. Kevin Karpowicz, a prominent Schenectady pediatrician, said the medical home at the former St. Clare’s will serve as a model system for delivering health care in the community.
“The concept is to get the care out of the emergency department and to get it into a continuous care setting where we can prevent unnecessary hospitalization,” he said.
“This is to improve access to the less fortunate and indigent, but it is also open to all people,” Karpowicz said. The medical home will include other community agencies and medical providers, including the Schenectady Free Clinic, private medical practices, Hometown Health, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood and others.
The medical home concept brings under one roof “all the services people need, such as dental, pediatrics, mental health,” Karpowicz said.
Under this concept, the patient develops a long-term relationship with the primary care physician or health care provider and his or her care is coordinated by a case manager.
“It is going to be able to get all of us working together to make sure all people in the community have quality medical care,” Karpowicz said.
A family practice residency program under Karpowicz’s coordination will tie into the medical home as well.
“We will be training the next generation of family practice physicians,” he said.
There is a shortage of primary care physicians, Karpowicz said. The goal is to show that primary care is an attractive specialty, he said.
Ellis Hospital CEO James Connolly said the grant will be used to renovate the former hospital into the medical home, to develop an electronic record-keeping system for primary care coverage and to hire a community-based case manager. The manager will help people to figure out where to get insurance, where to go to get care and how to reach other community agencies for assistance, Connolly said.
Anne Schneider Costigan with the Center for Disability Services said the agency will use its grant to buy medical equipment for the health center and update the facility.