First few Article Sentences
In a region where access to care for the poor has advanced to a state of crisis, the Community Health Referral Network offers a promising new model of care coordination and delivery. Sacramento’s already fragmented safety-net has been devastated by severe cuts to public health services that have been made in the worst of economic times. An unprecedented number of underserved are turning to hospital emergency departments for basic care because they lack a primary care provider and are unable to navigate the dramatically altered health care landscape. It is estimated that over 30% of emergency department admissions could be avoided if patients had access to adequate, affordable care. While capacity to provide care exists within the nonprofit community-based clinic system, providers have historically operated in silos with minimal resources for patient outreach; factors exacerbating barriers to care and contributing to reliance on emergency departments.
The Community Health Referral Network is designed to shift the paradigm. The program is a collaborative initiative between four Catholic Healthcare West member hospitals (Mercy General, Mercy San Juan Medical Center, Mercy Hospital of Folsom and Methodist Hospital of Sacramento) and 18 nonprofit community clinics. It connects uninsured and underinsured (Medicaid) patients seen and treated in emergency departments for non-urgent/emergent care to permanent health care homes in the community. Goals are to increase access to care for those in need, reduce avoidable emergency department admissions by maximizing judicious use of community health resources, improve the health status of the underserved, and lower health care costs.