For the 5th consecutive year, we are a Health Center Quality Leader.
Among our programming at Pillars Community Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides medical, dental, and behavioral health, and related services. The Health Center is recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee of Quality Assurance (NCQA) for use of care coordination, electronic health records, team-based care, and other interventions.
Quality Leader Award
In August 2018, our Health Center received a HRSA Health Center Quality award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services–marking the fifth year in a row that we’ve received such recognition and demonstrating that we are improving the lives of our patients every day. The award included $67,000 in Quality Improvement Grant funding. HRSA grants Health Center Quality Leader status to those that have achieved the best overall clinical performance among all health centers and placed in the top 30% of the rankings and clinical quality measures. Quality Leader status was given to 20 of 44 Health Centers in Illinois (including ours) and 411 of 1,373 Health Centers nationally.
Of the 15 clinical indicators on which we were rated, our outcomes placed us in the top 25% for seven indicators and top 50% for four indicators. Those outcomes included:
- 88% of prenatal patients accessed prenatal care in their first trimester of pregnancy compared to 74% nationally and 75% in Illinois.
- 58% of our dental patients ages 6-9 had appropriate sealants on their first molars, compared to 48% in Illinois and 51% nationally.
- 40% of our child patients were fully immunized before their third birthday, including two flu vaccines. This goal was a challenge for all health centers, but our staff worked hard to increase our rate from 35%-40% this year. This places us in the top 50% of health centers nationally and surpasses the average 34% for Illinois health centers.
Some other comparisons of particular note highlight our great teamwork to increase access to and integrate medical, dental and mental health services:
- 94.3% of patients were screened for clinical depression and, if screened positive, had a follow-up plan, compared to an average of 76% in Illinois and 66% nationally.
- 53% of our Health Center patients accessed mental health services in 2017. Only one other Illinois community health center had a higher percentage.
- 56% of all health center patients accessed dental services in 2017. The national average is 22.5% and the Illinois average is 13.7%. Only two other health centers in Illinois (both rural county health department FQHCs) provided a higher percentage of dental care to their patients.
Another metric also highlights our work to increase access and value:
- On average each of our patients had 4.2 clinical service encounters (medical, dental, or behavioral health) compared to 3.5 encounters on average in Illinois. While our cost per patient is higher than the average in Illinois ($908 for Pillars Community Health and $732 Illinois average), when the cost is divided by the average number of visits per patient, our cost per patient visit is very similar–$216–compared to an average of $209 per patient visit average in Illinois.
National Health Center Week
In the early 1960s, determined community health and civil rights advocates started a movement to help Americans access health care who might otherwise have limited health care resources or dollars to pay for care. What resulted was the creation of community health centers. Today there are more than 1,100 Federally Qualified Health Centers representing more than 10,400 rural and urban counties. These Health Centers are staffed by highly qualified, trained professional doctors, dentists, and other staff. Patients can receive care, regardless of their ability to pay.
The HRSA award announcement came amid National Health Center Week (August 12-18, 2018). The 2018 theme was “Celebrating Health Centers: Home of America’s Health Care Heroes.” This week provided an opportunity for us to celebrate the community health center movement, our own Health Center, and our passionate staff (our Health Center heroes).
As a result of our merger this year, we can not only provide medical and dental care but can also provide mental health treatment, a domestic violence shelter, child care, and other services. Patients and clients need only call a single number—708-PILLARS—to find help for a variety of health and social issues. We are so proud of our more than 300 staff who work hard every day to make this care accessible to the 20+ communities we serve. We are also so thankful for the many community partners who help us make this work a reality.