BY MELANIE WADE –
Healthy Connections, Inc. (HCI), in Mena is looking to expand their operations and are in the process of finalizing the details with contractors and the architectural firm. HCI’s CEO, Tony Calandro, said they hope to add approximately 14 exam rooms and an additional central supply and restrooms to expand their current services and make room for new programs.
Calandro said the exact square footage and cost of the addition is still unknown, but they will have grant funding to help with construction. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that Mena’s HCI is one of several beneficiaries of over $260 million in funding to 290 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for facility renovation, expansion, or construction. The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act’s Community Health Center (CHC) Fund, which was extended with bipartisan support in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015. Health centers will use the funding to increase their patient capacity and to provide additional comprehensive primary and preventive health services to medically underserved populations.
HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said, “Health centers are cornerstones of the communities they serve. Today’s awards will empower health centers to build more capacity and provide needed health care to hundreds of thousands of additional individuals and their families.”
Calandro said HCI is “always seeking and examining programs that provide access of care” for the communities that they serve. “Any goal for expansion of services or facilities are meant to enhance the experience for our existing patients and future patients that we serve.”
HCI currently provides an array of medical and dental services including: Primary & Preventative Medical Care, General Dentistry, 340-B Pharmacy Program Discounts, Affordable Care Act and Private Option Enrollment, Discounted Medical & Dental Care, Arkansas Abstinence Education Program, Healthy Families America home visiting program, Behavioral Services, Radiology Services, and Cardiology Services.
As safety net providers, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) fill a huge void in American health care. “We are at the front-lines serving the most vulnerable by delivering quality care,” said Calandro. “We are proud to be one of the some 1,200 health centers in the country.” Together, he explained, health centers care for more than 21 million people annually, with the vast majority living in medically underserved populations as determined by a lack of primary care providers in their area, high infant mortality, high rates of poverty, homelessness or large elderly populations.
Calandro listed several reasons for the pride HCI’s staff has in the services they offer. He said, “we offer comprehensive care that treats the whole person, we focus on delivering services that respect the diverse cultures and needs of our patients, include the use of technology to better coordinate the care of our patients receive, compile and analyze health data about our communities to better understand and treat chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma or obesity, and we are led by a Board of Directors of which a majority of the members are patients of our centers. We believe that it makes us responsive to the needs of our patients and all the communities we serve.”