Lawrence Memorial Hospital already contributes more than $2.3 million a year to Health Care Access, through in-kind services for helping people with no or inadequate health insurance.
And now even more help is on the way.
Health Care Access, a clinic that provided 1,642 Douglas County residents with primary health care services last year, on Tuesday received a $1,000 check that had been given to the hospital for receiving a Community Connections Award from the Kansas Hospital Association.
During an afternoon ceremony in the hospital lobby, Tom Bell, the association's president, lauded LMH for its innovative and essential efforts to care for the area's uninsured residents. The association considered 115 hospital-community partnerships for the statewide awards, of which LMH won one of seven.
Then Bell presented a ceremonial, posterboard prize payment to Gene Meyer, LMH's president and chief executive officer, before handing over the actual $1,000 check to Nikki King, executive director for Health Care Access.
"That's only appropriate," Meyer said, to applause from about 50 assembled community leaders, health care officials, program supporters, LMH physicians and others.
The $1,000 will allow the clinic to provide a year's worth of care for three area residents who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford care. The clinic at 1920 Moodie Road serves as a regular doctor's office, providing direct care for everything from flu to diabetes and hypertension; the clinic also refers patients to LMH for more complicated care, such as surgeries, cancer treatments and more.
Aside from helping provide people with top-quality care, Bell said, the partnership also allows the hospital to reduce its number of emergency room visits, often the most expensive form of care for people with an ongoing inability to pay.
As the nation continues to grapple with a rising number of uninsured patients, Bell said, LMH's work with Health Care Access offers a "perfect example" of how the two partners can make the best of a difficult situation by efficiently ensuring high-quality care.
King, at Health Care Access, considers the hospital's work invaluable in helping keep the community healthy. The partnership, she said, continues to pay off for all involved.
"It's an interdependency," she said, one she considers "vital to what we do."
The $2.3 million in services LMH provided through working with Health Care Access is only part of the hospital's commitment to charity care. The hospital provided $7.1 million of such care last year, including work referred through other providers and through direct visits to the emergency room.
The timing of the award from the hospital association couldn't have been better, Meyer said, as the presentation came during the nationwide observance of Cover the Uninsured Week.
Whether the total number of Americans lacking coverage is 47 million or 48 million, he said, the total's financial and social effects touch everyone - insured and uninsured alike.
"Sometimes we forget that," Meyer said. "Even the folks who are insured are paying the price for the uninsured, and we've got to do something about it."