New Haven Independent: DeLauro: Federal Health Care $$ On The Way

By Thomas MacMillan

Thanks to the new federal health care reform law, Hill Health Center might be able to move its patients faster and provide them with health information while they wait.

Jamesina Henderson (at left in photo), CEO of the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center on Columbus Avenue in the hill, shared that vision for the center’s future after a Tuesday morning visit by U.S. Rep. DeLauro (at center in photo).

DeLauro was in town to tour the health center and celebrate the passage in March of federal health care reform legislation. She walked through the facility Tuesday, guided by Hill Health Center staff.

She highlighted the fact that the law includes $11 billion for community health centers like Hill Health.

She paused in the Child and Family Guidance Clinic to speak with clinician Rachel Collins (at right in top photo). DeLauro asked if she has seen an increase in child abuse since the recession. Collins said that she has.

Parents get stressed out and they don’t know how to handle their children, Collins said.

“Thank God you’re here,” DeLauro said.

Later, before joining a panel discussion, DeLauro spoke about the impact of health care reform on community health centers like Hill Health. Such centers are “the bedrock” for providing health care, she said. The new legislation includes the $11 billion over five years to support community health centers. The money is intended to help boost preventive care and ease the burden on hospital emergency rooms, DeLauro said.

The money will pay for new construction and expansion of health services, DeLauro said.

Every dollar invested in this way will result in two dollars of economic activity, DeLauro said later.

After DeLauro’s visit, Henderson said she’s not yet sure how much money Hill Health will see from the health care reform law. The “implementation criteria” are still being figured out, she said.

If money does come in, Henderson said she’d like to renovate the center for “improved patient flow.” For instance, the pediatrics department could be moved next to the OB-Gyn department. Older parts of the building could be brought up to par with newer parts.

Henderson said she also like to use technology to spread wellness information with patients. There could be monitors in waiting areas that would display information about preventing injury and disease, she said.

Henderson said DeLauro’s visit helped bring together a discussion between representatives of local hospitals and community health centers. That kind of dialogue is important as health care reform moves forward, Henderson said. “We all have to partner better.”

Sarah Locke

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