The California Primary Care Association (CPCA), says its president, Carmela Castellano-Garcia, calculated that more than 205 of California’s 1,300 federally qualified clinics — which serve up to 7 million low-income and immigrant Californians — shut their offices at the start of the crisis, meaning that poor, mainly immigrant patients either had to travel further for treatment or had to make do with phone visits with doctors in lieu of in-person exams.
Read more here in Capital and Main
Carmela Castellano-Garcia, president and CEO with the California Primary Care Association, said 22 of the state’s largest clinics are really hurting financially.
“We are swept in the funding allocations that are not specific to health center needs. And so therefore our needs have not been addressed,” Castellano-Garcia said. “So that is why we will continue to push for health center-specific funding.”
The latest tranche of federal funding allocated dollars for safety-net hospitals but excluded health centers, so advocates are asking the Department of Health and Human Services to carve out a specific fund for the centers.
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Carmela Castellano-Garcia works with the leaders of many clinics that will benefit from the Health Net grants as the chief executive officer of the California Primary Care Association.
“Our clinics are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to face increased financial strain that limits their ability to best serve patients—many of whom are Medi-Cal enrollees,” she said. “The funding provided and expedited by Health Net will enable clinics to build out much-needed telehealth capabilities and support those who serve our state’s most vulnerable.”
Read more in the Sacramento Bee
But in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown, there are worries about the future of this neighborhood clinic and others like it. Community health centers ― which provide medical services for 1 in 6 Californians ― have been forced to cancel in-person patient visits, and more than 200 of the clinics have closed since March. Despite several tranches of emergency government aid, the losses have forced widespread layoffs, said Carmela Castellano-Garcia, president of the California Primary Care Association
Read more in the California Healthline
The increased use of virtual care, or telehealth, has proven successful amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and its ongoing use offers long-term solutions as uncertainty remains over potentially multiple waves of COVID-19 and the timeline for a vaccine. It’s time to consider telehealth as a solution to improve medical and behavioral health access for low-income communities that have been hard hit by the pandemic.
Read more here in CalMatters