Our Safety-Net Initiative was designed to enhance the safety-net of providers in our region dedicated to delivering comprehensive primary health care, including oral health and mental health services, to underserved populations regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status.
With this initiative, we sought to ensure that:
- Children and families in WNY communities of poverty had access to health care at times and locations that meet their needs;
- Western New York safety-net care meet or exceed accepted benchmarks for quality; and
- Shared goals and principles become the foundation for long-term, person-centered collaboration and community planning within the western New York safety-net.
To achieve these outcomes, in July 2007 we hired John Snow, Inc. (JSI) to conduct an assessment of Allegany, Cattaraugus,Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties to identify ways that we can support, improve and expand the safety-net.
The assessment looked at access to primary medical, oral and mental health care; consumer experience within the western New York primary care safety-net and baseline technology capacity of safety-net providers.
The assessment yielded several reoccurring trends, including provider shortages, limited capacity, limited access and over-utilization of emergency rooms. Based on these findings, JSI made three key recommendations for how to strengthen the western New York safety-net that we factored into our efforts, including developing a booster fund to assist organizations with New Access Point applications, converting from “Look-Alike” to Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) status and exploring opportunities to expand services and work collaboratively.