SPRINGFIELD — Sisters of Providence Health System programs have received $170,000 in grants from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation to increase access to health care in the Springfield area.
A $150,000 commitment over three years will fund the Mercy Access Program, a coordinated system of care that will link uninsured users of Mercy Medical Center’s Emergency Department to a network of community-based clinics and specialty services within SPHS and the community. While addressing the needs of the uninsured overall, the project focuses on highly vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, mentally ill, and immigrants and refugees.
The Health Care for the Homeless program at Mercy was awarded $20,000 to ensure that homeless and Vietnamese MassHealth members receive ongoing education, support and case management to connect them with health services.
Health care reform is at the top of the agenda for the state Legislature in 2005, said Vincent McCorkle, president and CEO of SPHS.
“These grants will allow us to continue building pathways for people who need help getting access to health care,” he said. “Those without insurance often postpone necessary care until the problems are advanced.”
As part of the program, patients who come to the Mercy emergency department will be treated, and a plan will be developed for them to access appropriate follow-up care, through the preventive and primary care services at the Caring Health Center, formerly the Springfield Southwest Community Health Center, and other community health centers.
Those who need mental health and substance abuse services will be referred to Providence Behavioral Health Hospital for follow-up. The goal is to help 3,500 individuals and families receive individualized care coordination services, including access to insurance programs for which they may be eligible.
The grants, announced Jan. 6, were part of $617,000 for Western Mass. health care providers and community organizations.