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Community Health Center Meets Medical Needs
By Megan Harrington
For Saratoga TODAY
SARATOGA SPRINGS – While many lower-income residents may have health care that covers catastrophic illnesses and events, that insurance often doesn’t extend to routine medical services and dental work. Saratoga Hospital’s Community Health Center (CHC) is offering a remedy with a one-stop shop for individuals who need non-urgent medical and dental care and have limited or no insurance.
CHC’s Medical Director Dr. Renee Rodriguez-Goodemote says, “We’re one of the few programs in the area that is using an integrated model when it comes to behavioral health, dental services, and primary care.” This model is unique and effective because it removes some of the stigma often surrounding mental health care. People no longer have to obtain behavioral health services from a separate clinic – at CHC it’s all in one place.
Purchased for $1.95 million dollars two years ago, the facility opened at its 24 Hamilton Street location in September 2013. The Community Health Center is within walking distance to downtown apartments, businesses and a CDTA bus stop. The CHC also offers early morning and evening hours, essential for patients who need to come in before or after work. According to the CHC’s September 2014 Stewardship Report, in its first year, the Community Health Center provided services for 3,381 needy patients during 10,113 visits.
All services are provided regardless of an individual’s ability to pay; however, there is on-site staff at CHC that are available to assist uninsured patients apply for low-cost coverage and/or enroll in the Hospital’s financial assistance program. According to the recent CHC Stewardship Report, more than 250 previously uninsured patients now have coverage due to these efforts.
Amy Raimo, Executive Director of the Saratoga Hospital Foundation and VP of Community Engagement explains that the success of the Community Health Center has been a long-term project for the Hospital. “When they began to work on this project, they set a $3 million dollar goal which would allow them to buy the building at 24 Hamilton Street. The remaining money would go into an endowment fund to support the health center in to perpetuity.”
Currently the endowment fund is at a little over $700,000 and the investments have already begun producing dividends. Raimo explains that once the endowment reaches $1 million dollars, it will begin generating around $50,000 dollars in income per year. This money will be used to help purchase equipment, perform building renovations and offset hiring costs for doctors, dentists and mental health workers. “One of our big priorities is to grow the endowment each year,” says Raimo. This endowment is essential because there’s a large gap between revenue that comes in (via reimbursements) and what it actually costs to provide services. Saratoga Hospital has committed to covering the difference, which is estimated to be $1 million dollars per year, but to close that gap even further, fundraising events are held.
To aid in this process, all proceeds from Saratoga Hospital’s Summer Gala have been designated for the Community Health Center. “We can’t think of a better use of those funds because the Community Health Center is such a valuable resource to the community,” says Raimo. This coming year’s annual appeal has also been earmarked to help the facility. “We only mail to donors once per year and the donors appreciate that. They know that when they receive an appeal, it’s important,” says Raimo.
In addition, the CHC will receive fundraising dollars from Saratoga Hospital’s Employee Campaign and an upcoming Business Appeal. Raimo explains, “For a lot of employees of downtown businesses, this is an incredible resource. We all know that a healthy employee is a more productive employee.”
Saratoga Springs’s official motto is “Health, History, and Horses”, but “Wealth” might also come to mind when you think of our fine city. Unfortunately, the staff at the Community Health Center knows all too well that there are many underinsured residents living right next door. Many families face a choice between seeing the dentist or getting a flu shot and buying essentials like groceries. “The focus of the Community Health Center is to fill a gap in the community. So that people who are uninsured or underinsured have a place to go to get high quality medical, dental, and mental health services,” explains Raimo.
Receiving routine care at the Community Health Center ultimately means fewer Emergency Room visits, which is important because an ER visit costs, on average, twice as much as a primary care doctor’s appointment.
To help individuals get set up with routine care, the Saratoga Hospital Emergency Department works with the Community Health Center to provide a list of people who come in without insurance and a primary care provider. Each month about 30 of those individuals become established Community Health Center patients. In this case, the saying by Benjamin Franklin rings true: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
“We really are committed to the health center and its success”, says Raimo. “If you go down and hear some of the stories – from an elderly person who needed dentures to kids who needed immunizations to start school – you’ll realize how the staff is helping people in this community and how grateful those people are.” Raimo explains, “That’s all we need to hear to continue doing what we need to do.”
And at 24 Hamilton Street, you’ll feel the personal touch. Rodriguez-Goodemote explains, “We’re not just a medical practice, we want to be a part of their life and help them navigate their stresses.”
The CHC’s comprehensive approach includes not only health care, but services such as a food pantry and clothing if needed. Raimo agrees, “The staff is so caring and amazing and they really take the time to get to know their patients and find out their needs.” For example, staff saw that many patients were struggling to come up with prescription co-pays, so the CHC recently established a patient Rx fund. Due to it’s popularity, the fund was almost depleted, but when this was mentioned at a Foundation Board meeting, members gave whatever they had in their own pockets and came up with nearly $1,000 on the spot. “That’s how important this is to us,” says Raimo.
With over 10,000 visits in its first year and numbers on the rise, staff and supporters of the Community Health Center are poised to make 2015 even healthier for area residents.
For more information, visit saratogahospital.org/locations-directions/saratoga-community-health-center
WILTON- The Wellness Department at Healthy Living Market and Café at the Wilton Mall invites you to start 2014 with a focus on whole-body wellness.
“The key theme of the weekend is ‘connections’.” Said David Wolfe, the Market’s Saratoga Wellness Manager. “Hopefully, the weekends’ offerings will help to re-establish some primal relationships that have been lost in our fuel-abusing, modern society.”
“We have been governed by the psychology of ‘more’ instead of sustainability,” Wolfe said. “These seminars and programs are designed to restore our primal relationships with our food, our earth and with other human beings.”
“Since the 50s and 60s we have been sold on the philosophy of convenience, which has led to the toxification of our bodies,” Wolfe explained further. “The good news is that these things are correctable, yet only if we make a conscious effort. These programs will hopefully get people started thinking, or continuing along a good path.”
On Saturday and Sunday February 8 and 9 the Market’s Learning Center and Wellness Department will team up with some of Saratoga’s most skilled health professionals and local vendors with the focus on areas such as:
- Flu and cold prevention
- How to make a habit of healthy eating in 2014
- An understanding of the products the Market sells and their benefits
- 2 days of life-enriching Learning Center Classes
- Dr. Hauschka makeovers and kits
- In-house cooking demonstrations all weekend, with and emphasis on seasonal foods
- Free samples, recipes and giveaways
- A panel of local health professionals will be talking about their own health challenges, changes they’ve made in life style and diet, and they’ll answer your questions.
“The entire weekend culminates with a panel discussion on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.,” David Wolfe said. “This is where you can get the answers and recommendations from 10-12 of our professionals. Anyone can ask anyone about anything!”
Schedule of Classes at the Healthy Living Learning Center
All Classes and Panel Discussions arefree, with no registration required
Saturday, February 8
Natural Healthy Hair Color by Herbitant with Erin Marzilli
11 a.m. - Noon
Learn all there is to know about an all-natural hair coloring system. Explore the history; sustainable values and a unique formula that helps people get the color they want, without toxic ingredients that are harmful to the body or earth.
Emotional Eating and Bach Flower Remedies with Nini Gridley
12:30 -1:30 p.m.
This flower-empowering class covers a complete system of 38 natural flower-based remedies and outlines how safe, natural and effective these remedies are for restoring emotional balance and well-being. (Suitable for the whole family.)
Stress Reduction and Meditation with Pierre Zimmerman
This stress-relieving class will uncover the neuroscience behind stress and how it affects the body and mind. Body relaxation techniques will be explored, as well as experiential meditation and communication skills that serve people effectively. This class helps connect people to their actual life experience and lends a hand in reducing stress levels on a daily basis.
Dr. Hauschka Make-overs and Kits with Kelly Kynion
3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
The Doctor is in the house Saturday-Dr. Hauschka’s Kelly Kynion will teach Guests which products work best for each individual, how to use certain cosmetics and applications, and will offer many goodies for the face, body and bath.
Benefits of Yoga with Julie Bell
5 – 6 p.m.
What is yoga and how does it actually affect a person’s health? In a matter of minutes, experience the numerous health benefits of yoga. Connect to your body and breath and see what happens when your attention is brought back to your body as a practice. Learn an all-natural way to detox the body and gain a sense of well-being. Basic postures and a connection to nutrition will also be reviewed.
Sunday, February 9
Juicing 101 with Donna Panzl
11 a.m. - Noon
Receive tons of information and get a hands-on experience. Connect to your food and discover the extreme health benefits of juicing. Learn what digestive enzymes are, how juicing can provide energy for a full day’s work, reduce inflammation, aid in weight loss and improve sleep.
Yoga Basics: Yoga Vinyasa with Penny Berg
“Ashtanga Yoga is breath practice. The rest is just bending.” -Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Attend this yoga class that is truly designed for the beginner in all of us. Connect to the breath, body and coordinate a practice that enhances all of the systems of the body. Basic yoga postures will be explored as well as a guided meditation exercise that will leave you feeling calm and connected.
Fertility and Good Nutrition with Lisa Cartier
Ever wonder what to do once you know you are pregnant? Do you know how to choose the best care provider or how to develop a birth plan? Connect to your own birth experience, including breast feeding vs. bottle feeding, dietary guidelines for fertility, and charting your cycle. Handouts provided.
The Fundamentals of Healing with Therapeutic Oils with Kaitlin Moen
3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Get connected with essential oils and experience an effective, safe and all-natural way of sustaining great health. This class provides tons of useful information about “smart medicine” that helps people understand the difference between certified pure therapeutic grade oils and other oils available on the market. Learn about the quality, purity and potency of essential oils as well as diverse ways of applying them throughout the year.
Connections to Integrative Medicine: Everyday Living with Chinese Medicine with Dr. Michael Wayne
With over 25 years of experience Dr. Michael Wayne provides extensive knowledge and an overview of Integrative Medicine; what it is, how it works, and the importance of it in today’s world. This class will also teach participants how to prepare a Chinese herbal tea using herbs found at Healthy Living Market and Café. Learn to ward off colds and promote winter health…and enjoy making and tasting your very own winter herbal tea.
Open Panel Discussion in Healthy Living (Atrium)
All the instructors from the weekend will be on hand to answer your questions. Get a variety of perspectives at once!
Healthy Living Market and Café
Wellness Weekend Fair:
Making Connections to Healthy Living in 2014
Saturday, February 8 from 11:30 a.m.
through Sunday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m.
All events are Free.
MILTON – Residents in the Town of Milton will no longer have to drive into Saratoga or Malta for primary medical care, with the opening of a new medical building this fall. The medical facility will be operated by Saratoga Hospital and will be located in the Town Center. A Boghosian Brothers project, the Milton Medical Office will be the first of its kind in the Milton area.
WILTON – For EMS crews responding to a medical emergency, every second is crucial to their patient’s well-being. Advances in cellular technology are now allowing ambulances to relay medical information to hospitals faster than ever before, which could make all the difference for a person whose life might be in jeopardy.