Federal designation allows Broadway’s CARE Clinic to expand services

CARE-clinicSince the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the KC CARE Clinic at 3515 Broadway has been going through major changes. It even took a new name in 2013, switching from the Kansas City Free Health Clinic to reflect the fact that it now accepts insurance from patients who have it.

This month, the clinic took another big step when received a major federal designation.

It earned the status of Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That makes the clinic eligible to receive $650,000 annually. The clinic is now able to offer pediatric care as well as services for senior citizens and those on Medicare and Medicaid, and to continue to serve the most needy while also offering convenient healthcare to the surrounding neighborhoods.

In addition, the CARE Clinic announced this month that it has been recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). HHS defines a medical home as “a cultivated partnership between the patient, family, and primary provider in cooperation with specialists and support from the community” built around the patient/family at its center.

“The Kansas City CARE Clinic has provided critical community health services in the Kansas City area for more than four decades,” Congressman Emanuel Cleaver said in a press release. “I am pleased that they have earned status as a full-fledged FQHC. This is a great opportunity to ensure we are taking care of the area’s most vulnerable.”

CARE-clnic-smallMany people in Midtown remember the original clinic, which opened as the Westport Free Health Clinic in the Alcazar Hotel in 1971, and moved into the “Old Stone House” at 40th and Baltimore from 1973 to 1986. The clinic changed its name to the Kansas City Free Health Clinic, moved to the city’s east side and became known for its expertise in HIV counseling and testing. The clinic moved back to 39th and Main in 1993. In 2001, it relocated to its current location at 35th and Broadway, and has operated an eastside location since 2011 at 24th and Denver.

One of the unique aspects of the clinic has always been its use of volunteers. When it was founded, volunteers provided 100 percent of the care. Today hundreds of volunteers continue to provide specialty medical care including dermatology, gynecology, chiropractic care, physical and occupational therapy in collaboration with the clinic’s 100 full and part-time staff physicians, nurses, case managers, community health workers and others. Two area churches, Village Presbyterian and Church of the Resurrection, also run volunteer-staffed clinics on Saturday mornings.

That change of name in 2013 to the Kansas City CARE Clinic was an attempt to signal to the public a major shift in service: under a new business model, the clinic is now able to serve both the insured and the uninsured. Vice President of Marketing and Development Kirk Isenhour said that’s the message he’s been trying to get out to the community ever since.

“I find that people are often concerned they will be taking care away from the uninsured” by using the clinic. In fact, he said, the clinic has the capacity to see more patients and those will insurance help support services for those who do not. As the area around the clinic including newly-redeveloped apartments on Armour and Broadway fill up with new younger residents, he hopes they’ll think about the clinic as a center for their health care needs.

“We can be your health care home,” he said.

One Comment

  1. Greg Patterson says:

    This organization and its work dating back to the 60’s as the Westport Free Health Clinic is so important. I remember the house on Baltimore and Archibald Streets where it provided health service to anyone who needed it.

    Congratulations and thank you to all those associated to KCCC especially the volunteers.

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