North Coast Health Ministry
North Coast Health Ministry achieved recognition as a National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Patient-Centered Medical Home 2011, level 3, becoming the first free clinic in Ohio to attain this distinction.
North Coast Health Ministry’s Patient-Centered Approach Earns Recognition
North Coast Health Ministry (NCHM) is the first free health clinic in Ohio to attain the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Patient-Centered Medical Home 2011. It achieved the honor by integrating technology, reducing unnecessary patient cost, increasing access to healthcare, and increasing the effectiveness of its patient communication and care. NCHM’s Executive Director Lee Elmore says, “Achieving recognition as a patient-centered medical home is an important validation of the steps we have taken to ensure comprehensive, continuous care for our low-income uninsured patients.”
NCHM began treating acute conditions as small clinic in 1986 and was able to expand to chronic care after a few years of operating. For 27 years this faith-based nonprofit has strived to provide quality medical care for the uninsured. “Most of our patients have chronic diseases, and the standards and procedures required for recognition as a patient-centered medical home ensure that the care we are providing for them results in the best outcomes and reduces unnecessary costs,” says Elmore.
With the economic recession, many individuals on Cleveland’s West Side have found themselves facing difficulties accessing affordable care. Medical director Philip Tomsik, M.D., says “We are seeing patients on a daily basis who state that they have always worked and do not know what to do since losing their jobs; people who say they never before have had to deal with lack of insurance or lack of financial security.”
In 2011, NCHM’s volunteer medical staff served 2740 individuals, a nine percent increase, and registered over 1100 new patients. It seeks to reduce the stress on uninsured families by providing critical care, health education, referrals to specialists, medical tests, and wellness care, including women’s mammograms and pelvic exams. To further expand the range of its services, NCHM has developed strategic partnerships with other healthcare providers. Through NCHM patients can access services at various labs and even diagnostic services at the famed Cleveland Clinic. NCHM also distributes millions of dollars of prescription drugs through its Prescription Assistance Program, which is made possible in large measure by its strategic partnerships with pharmaceutical companies.
Elmore reports that one of NCHM’s great strengths, in addition to these partnerships, is the organization’s adaptability. In a culture that is constantly advancing and evolving, healthcare providers especially have to be “nimble, and manage change” to meet individual patient needs within the community. NCHM, she says, takes a “holistic approach to the individual and to meeting the needs of the community.”
NCHM has managed to expand its budget from $1.4 million to $4 million over the past several years. Its 2011 annual gala, celebrating its 25th anniversary, garnered an impressive $150,000. The ministry also sponsors a “Bridgebuilders Club” of individual donors at the $1000/year level and works with individuals who wish to include the clinic in their estate plans. NCHM has also built strong financial support from local corporations and private foundations. “We don’t chase dollars,” says Elmore. Instead, she explains, by continuing to operate as a patient-centered clinic where patient care is the genuine priority, generous donors, community partnerships, and volunteers “come naturally.”