Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS) got a new medical director last month, but he’s not a new face at the organization. William Lockwood helped to start CHAS’s first urgent care clinic, which opened on the north side in March 2011. The clinic saw 13,000 visits in its first year, and at least 35 percent of those patients were uninsured, Lockwood says. As health care reform goes into effect, community health centers like CHAS are expected to see even more patients. We sat down with Lockwood to see how he expects to meet that challenge.
INLANDER: What’s on the horizon for CHAS?
The next big goal is becoming what’s called a “patient-centered medical home.” This is a push throughout the country to change the way we do health care to a more patient-centered approach. … How does the patient want to be contacted? Do they want to be contacted by email, by phone, by letter? It’s setting up patient portals so they can contact us by email if they want to, or they can receive their labs by email if they want to.
CHAS Executive Director Peg Hopkins estimates that the Affordable Care Act will make as many as 50,000 more people in Spokane eligible for Medicaid. How do you plan to meet that need?
Two different approaches: one is continue to expand. The board that oversees CHAS is very aware of this, so they’ll continue to look for new places to build clinics. We’re always actively recruiting providers.
The other is ... there’s been a perception in the community that the care you get at a community health center is not great, and it really is. The providers are fantastic. The care is great, and I think achieving patient-centered medical home will kind of reinforce that. … I think once we get to that, it’ll be even more obvious that it’s a great place to get care. That’ll make it easier to attract people and easier to expand.
With that many newly eligible patients coming pretty quickly, can CHAS keep up?
We have to. … [CHAS leadership has] gotten very good at starting new clinics. … I think we can give it a shot.