Editorial: New Collaboration for Health Care in Jax
Editorial by the Florida Times-Union Editorial Board
It’s a well-known fact that uninsured Jacksonville residents use the emergency room too often for primary care services.
Unfortunately, Jacksonville has too many uninsured residents. About 1 in 6 adults in Duval County don’t have health insurance. Many of them are low-wage earners. And pandemic, which is causing a rise in unemployment, will lead to more people losing their employer-provided health insurance.
Without health insurance, they often delay needed care and wind up in the emergency room with serious complications. Without good primary care, services may be duplicated. Followup is often a problem.
Without knowledge of the free clinics, uninsured Duval residents without transportation are hindered from visiting them.
Consider these emergency room visits by Duval County residents from 2018:
- 12,724 ER visits for upper respiratory infections.
- 7,712 ER visits for urinary tract infections.
- 6,523 visits for headaches.
What they need is true coordinated primary health care, a medical home, a safety net.
But primary options have been too scattered and uncoordinated among an impressive group of free and charity care providers.
Many low-income people lack information on the availability of the free clinics. The clinics don’t have much funding for outreach. Clinics lack the ability to coordinate care.
That is about to change as a coalition of nonprofits are constructing a system for primary health care, a safety net for the uninsured. The coalition gave a presentation to the Social Justice and Community Investment Committee of the City Council.
JaxCareConnect will be a pilot program connecting these health care partners: Sulzbacher, Agape, Mission House, WeCareJax, Volunteers in Medicine, Muslim American Social Services and Community Health Outreach.
Funding will come from the Riverside Hospital Foundation ($225,000), Baptist Health ($150,000), the Community Foundation ($75,000) and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund ($75,000).
This year is a planning year followed by three years of the pilot.
This pilot is planned to serve about 2,000 people and save $4.4 million in preventing emergency room charges.
JaxCareConnect would create a safety net with these traits:
- Enhances and simplifies access to care.
- Increases usage of the clinics and minimizes risk to access if a single partner clinic struggles.
- Reduces use of hospital emergency room departments for primary care.
- Improves the ability of the providers to analyze usage and cost data.
- Will save money by using health care services more efficiently.
How will this be done? There will be a consolidated intake and referral system, patient care advocates, transition of care managers and marketing and community education.
There would be a common intake and referral form. Patients will be directed to the best provider based on location, need and eligibility.
This will require a skilled administrator to build working relationships among all of the providers, assist patients and set up the communication system.
After planning this year there will be a soft launch in the first quarter of 2021.
The pilot could be turbocharged with additional funding from the City of Jacksonville of $200,000.
It’s sad that we still are struggling to provide affordable health care to so many of our fellow residents, especially when providing primary care via emergency rooms is so expensive and lacks follow-up.
Kudos to the clinics and the funders for offering a smart system to provide health services in Duval County.
The article can be found by clicking HERE.