Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined with nine Boston hospitals, 24 local community health centers, and five health plans today to announce that significant progress has been made on the NeighborCare initiative launched during his 2011 State of the City Address, including that $140,000 has been raised for the effort. The goal of NeighborCare is to expand and improve access to community health centers, and to reduce the use of emergency departments for non-emergency care.
“This is really a win-win,” said Mayor Menino. “We have high-quality community health centers in Boston. By working together, we can encourage patients to use these centers and get treated by a primary care doctor before they need to go to the ER, which means lower health care costs and healthier Bostonians.”
The Mayor also announced that the community partners, working with the Boston Public Health Commission, have developed a set of guidelines to help transition patients who are treated in Boston’s emergency departments back to their community health centers and improve communication between all providers. This will help ensure patients receive high quality, coordinated care no matter where they are treated.
As part of this effort, Argus Communications has been chosen to develop and execute a public information campaign to raise awareness about the quality and availability of Boston’s community health centers. The $140,000 raised by community partners will support this campaign, and planning will start immediately.
Hospital emergency departments are often used for non-emergency care, or seeking care that could have been provided by a primary care clinician. This can lead to higher costs to the health care system and fragmented care.
“Community health centers can and should play a central role in preventive and non-emergency care in order to improve patient outcomes and reduce health disparities,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “They are places where patients can nurture long-term relationships with providers who can deliver comprehensive, coordinated, and high quality primary care."
“Mayor Menino’s leadership creating this important partnership will help to guarantee the broadest access to affordable care at the best cost for all concerned,” said Ruth Ellen Fitch, president and CEO of the Dimock Center. “The Dimock Center is proud to be a part of such a groundbreaking initiative that will provide an opportunity for health care providers, patients, health plans, and policy makers to work together to make high quality care available to all Boston residents. Together, we can ensure patients are getting the care they need, and that they are satisfied with that care. Controlling costs is a priority for everyone, and we can make that a reality with better communication and coordination between patients and the various health care providers.”