Doctors Care: Celebrating 30 years as safety net for medically underserved
For 30 years, Doctors Care has been known as “a gem in the community” for providing healthcare and services to low-income, medically underserved individuals in south metro Denver. The Doctors Care model is built on a commitment to providing long-term solutions to access which begin with coverage, extend to care, and ultimately to patients’ overall health and well-being. In the 30 years since its founding, Doctors Care has served more than 30,000 low-income residents of south metro Denver and provided more than $70 million in medical services to individuals in need.
Brief history of the organization
Founded in 1988 by the physicians of the Arapahoe Medical Society, Doctors Care is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health access and improving lives of people in need. Through a network of volunteer physicians, Doctors Care began providing care on a sliding scale, targeting individuals whose earnings were above the criteria to qualify for Medicaid and other public assistance, but below the level to pay for health care or private health insurance. After the successful establishment of this network, Doctors Care opened a clinic to treat medically underserved children and young adults. Following the Affordable Care Act, Doctors Care responded to the needs of the underserved in new ways by adding programs designed to assist individuals in accessing health coverage, and with utilizing that new coverage.
Today, Doctors Care provides care to disadvantaged Coloradans through its Four Core Services: a primary care Clinic and three Health Access Programs. The Clinic serves Medicaid recipients and the uninsured. Doctors Care Advantage is a community-based health access program that aims to improve access to care and resources for uninsured and Medicaid participants. Connection to Coverage helps individuals apply for Medicaid or shop and apply for subsidized insurance plans through Connect for Health Colorado. Health Navigation addresses socioeconomic barriers to health and well-being.
The Doctors Care clinic offers healthcare that includes integrated medical, behavioral health and dental hygiene services in one convenient location. Over 3,000 active patients receive services from staff or volunteer providers through nearly 8,000 visits each year. Demographically, over half of the patients are ethnic minorities, with statistically higher incidences of complications from treatable illnesses and increased risks of adverse health outcomes due to lack of affordable care. Clinic patients receive care from staff or volunteer medical providers familiar with challenges inherent in the patient population. Typical appointments allow sufficient time to address the comprehensive nature of their needs.
Health Access Programs at Doctors Care improve access to care and well-being for over 1,000 underserved individuals in the community annually. Each program strives to alleviate barriers to care, including lack of health coverage, limited access to specialty providers, and socioeconomic circumstances that prevent individuals from addressing their health care needs. Health Access services are available to Doctors Care patients, individuals referred by provider partners, and any community member in need. The Health Access Team includes five staff members and nearly a dozen volunteers.
The social determinants of health for low-income individuals can result in challenges to access and care. Doctors Care addresses the issue by screening patients prior to clinic appointments for needs such as food insecurities, transportation issues, financial problems, housing needs and other life challenges. Doctors Care staff and volunteers begin “connecting the dots” for the patient through warm handoffs and referrals to Health Navigation. In many instances, patients are immediately connected to other services and community resources. This process increases the impact of patient visits to Doctors Care, saves time and the inconvenience of a return visit and improves patients’ overall health and well-being.
The organization is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of leadership from south metro Denver hospitals, local physicians, ADEMS, COPIC and community representatives from financial and legal fields, among others. Board members are active participants in financial oversight of the organization, as well as in shaping its future programmatic and financial sustainability.
Doctors Care’s 30 years of service includes a long history of innovation and adapting programs to fit the needs of underprivileged individuals. As the healthcare landscape changes, challenges are met quickly with responsibility, creativity and compassion. CEO Bebe Kleinman has been at the helm of Doctors Care for over 18 years, providing visionary leadership and inspiration to board, staff, volunteers and patients alike. “Seeing our programs and services grow over my 18-year tenure, I realize what Doctors Care does best is equalize access to health care for our entire community. We ensure high quality, integrated care is available to all – despite whatever challenges brought on by poverty and socioeconomic insecurities like lack of food, transportation, housing and others,” states Kleinman.
This year, Doctors Care celebrates 30 years of quality, compassionate care designed to help individuals facing health and life challenges. Donations to Doctors Care help provide services to thousands of vulnerable Coloradans that are timely, comprehensive and responsive to each individual’s needs. The approach addresses health issues before they become catastrophic, reduces costs to the organization and the patient, and allows a greater number of individuals to access basic services.
For more information, visit DoctorsCare.org or contact Barb Hanson, Director of Development and Marketing, at bhanson@DoctorsCare.org or 720-458-6173 for information on how you can support Doctors Care.
Posted in: Colorado Medicine