Many Canandaigua residents soon will have better access to health care thanks to a partnership between Canandaigua Churches in Action, Thompson Health and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. The three entities are working together to open a health clinic for the uninsured, underinsured and working poor.
The New York State Department of Health recently approved Thompson Hospital’s request to open an extension clinic at 120 N. Main St., which is the site of the former Thompson Hospital and the current headquarters for CCIA, a coalition of 13 Christian churches in the area.
"The group’s purpose is to build a synergy around our efforts to help the needy," said Steve Uebbing, CCIA project chairperson.
The group was founded in June 2006 and since then has assisted Canandaigua’s needy through a food pantry and a clothing bin at CCIA’s headquarters. Deacon Claude Lester, faith-formation director at St. Mary Parish, was one of the driving forces behind the coalition’s formation and always envisioned a health-care component as part of its mission, Uebbing said.The community’s need for more health-care options was confirmed when a 2006 study by CCIA found that nearly 50 percent of the respondents had no access to health care or didn’t know where to go to receive health care.
"When CCIA formed in 2006, our food pantries and clothing bins filled many of the unmet needs of the poor and working poor. But we also found that health care is another critical need faced by this population, which is why we’re also focusing on finding primary care for this population," Uebbing said.
The new clinic is intended to help people who make too much money to qualify for government assistance, but not enough to pay for all their health-care costs, Uebbing noted.
"It’s not so much the poorest of the poor needing this, because frankly they get Medicaid, but the working poor," he said.
The site of the future clinic is currently being renovated, and organizers hope the clinic will open in the fall, Uebbing said. The renovation costs will be paid for through a grant from Excellus, which will put $50,000 into the project over a four-year period, and a $100,000 grant attained by Sen. Dale M. Volker, R-Depew.
The new clinic hopefully will provide more options for uninsured and underinsured residents," Volker said in a statement.
"During these uncertain economic times, many of our residents are struggling financially and their health-care coverage is a concern for them and their families. Being uninsured or underinsured is something we all must come together and address," he said.
Excellus was happy to come together with CCIA and Thompson Health, according to a statement from Regional President Scott Ellsworth.
"A big part of our mission is to help as many people as possible access affordable health care, and this clinic will help accomplish this goal in the Canandaigua area, especially since about one in 10 adults are uninsured in upstate New York," he said.
Thompson Health also is eager to increase access to preventative health-care services in Canandaigua, according to Bonnie Ross, senior vice president for strategic initiatives. Thompson Health has been working with CCIA since the coalition’s inception in 2006, and the two organizations share many of the same goals, Ross told the Catholic Courier.
"The association with CCIA allows Thompson to increase access for individuals in need of health-care services. The CCIA initiative, and resulting CCIA clinic, is in line with Thompson Health’s strategic mission to deliver exceptional health and wellness to our community," she said.
Thompson Health will provide a nurse practitioner, clinical secretary and medical technician for the clinic, and CCIA will provide a site coordinator, who will help patients navigate the complexities of the health-care system and refer patients to appropriate programs and resources. The clinic will offer health-care services to patients at a reduced cost, and although the clinic is run by a Christian coalition, patients will not be expected to listen or subscribe to Christian ways of thinking before receiving care, Uebbing said.
"The clinic will help people get the right level of care when they need it, avoiding inappropriate trips to the emergency room that drives up the cost of health care for the entire community," he added.