UVMC Expands Support for Health Partners
Health Partners Free Clinic and UVMC are taking steps to work even closer together to focus on meeting the needs of the area’s growing number of uninsured and underinsured and building a healthier community. Services include primary health care and physicals.
Organized in 1998, Health Partners Free Clinic had 400 patients in 1999. “Today, the need continues to grow,” said Deb Miller, executive director of Health Partners. Much of the growth has come in the last three years. For example in 2007, Health Partners provided almost 2,000 prescriptions. Last year, that number was 13,000.
“Our patient visits have grown, services have grown and hours of operation have grown from two a week to about 30 hours a week,” said Miller.
“A vital part of our common mission is to provide access to needed health care services in our communities. What we are trying to do is to enhance our existing relationship as we go forward in the era of health care reform and new challenges,” said Tom Parker, president and CEO of UVMC.
UVMC made a $10,000 contribution to Health Partners for 2010 and committed a like amount for 2011. UVMC also will help the organization in other ways such as encouraging its health care professionals to volunteer for the health clinic.
“Volunteers are what drive the Health Partners organization. As the primary health care provider and largest employer in our county, we are talking it up,” Parker said of encouraging volunteering by more health care workers including physicians. “We want to play a more integral role in the health of our community,” he added. Deb Huelskamp, RN, (pictured) is among the UVMC health care professionals volunteering their time at the Health Partners clinic.
The UVMC Board of Directors had been discussing how UVMC could work more with others who share the health care mission in the area. “Health Partners percolated to the top because of what they do in the community, the number of people and lives that they touch and how they benefit/complement our health care system,” said Doug Murray, chairman of the UVMC Board of Directors. “The Board was very clear in saying this is a great place to start.”