Changes to LVH–17th Street Clinics Will Enhance Care for Patients
On July 1, 2020, eight community clinics at LVH-17th Street will transition to a new organization called Valley Health Partners Community Health Center (VHP).
Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) is launching an independent organization that will enhance services at eight of the key community clinics primarily located on the Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–17th Street campus to increase accessibility to care for the underserved and vulnerable populations, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. As of July 1, 2020, the following eight clinics will transition to the new organization called Valley Health Partners Community Health Center (VHP).
VHP Centro de Salud – Primary care practice dedicated to advancing the health and well-being of the Hispanic community with common health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and heart disease.
VHP Children’s Clinic – Care for children who are well, sick or have special needs including behavioral health, ADHD, asthma, obesity and more.
VHP Children’s Clinic at Sheridan – An extension of the Children’s Clinic, provides primary and specialty care for all Children’s Clinic patients in the Allentown School District from kindergarten through high school.
VHP Center for Women’s Medicine – Comprehensive health care for women and adolescent girls, including specialists who help with high-risk pregnancies, depression and more.
VHP Lehigh Valley Family Health Center – Community-based family medicine with an emphasis on improving and maintaining health for patients who are well, as well as those with chronic diseases.
VHP Lehigh Valley Physicians Practice Primary Care – High-quality, accessible, cost-effective primary health care for the Lehigh Valley’s diverse community.
VHP Mark J. Young Community Health and Wellness Center – Helping people learn how to take care of themselves, which is especially important for those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and obesity. Prediabetes and diabetes classes, as well as nutritional services, are offered.
VHP Street Medicine – Primary and urgent care for homeless people in the Lehigh Valley wherever they may live – in shelters, soup kitchens, under bridges or in the woods.
This transition will allow VHP to apply and become a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Look-Alike by spring next year (2021). An FQHC Look-Alike receives enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, which allows our clinics to offer whole-person care and creates opportunities to look beyond medical care, focusing on social determinants of health and other underlying causes of poor health.
The federal reimbursement permits the expansion of core services such as comprehensive primary care, dental and mental health/substance abuse in addition to enabling services that includes interpretation, transportation to appointments, and health education. VHP will offer a Sliding Fee Discount that removes any financial barriers to receiving care.
VHP will take every step possible to provide safe care at every clinic. Same-day appointments, virtually or in person, will be available and measures will be in place to protect every patient.
Patients will have access to an online patient portal for all clinic and outpatient services, and it will allow users to review medical record information, request prescription refills, schedule appointments and take care of billing matters. Patients also can schedule a VHP Video Visit, an online consultation with a caregiver, which is available every day, 24 hours a day.
“About a year ago, LVPG hired an external consulting firm to evaluate our current health care delivery structure and provide recommendations on how to better address the needs of our patients, colleagues, residents and fellows, and health network,” said Brian Nester, DO, MBA, FACOEP. “The intent of this transition is to preserve and expand the valuable assets we have built including staff and provider retention and access for our patients. Achieving FQHC Look-Alike status will bring recognition to the accomplishments of our health care delivery model, and as a result, increase our ability to meet the health care needs of the most vulnerable individuals.”
Nester said the FQHC Look-Alike will be a new nonprofit organization with its own board of directors and leadership. He said the focus will be to ensure close alignment and collaboration with LVHN and LVPG.
Nester said staff, management and providers are the most important pieces to the success of the clinics, and the primary goal is to preserve the current employment structure.
In early 2021, LVHN and LVPG will submit an application to Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for consideration in becoming an FQHC Look-Alike. Nester anticipates a review to be completed in 3-6 months. He said staff and patients will be informed throughout the process.