5 things every Wacoan should know about Family Health Center

By Rae Jefferson

For nearly 50 years, Family Health Center has tended to the medical needs of Wacoans from every corner of our community. FHC is a nonprofit organization with a rich history rooted in high-quality, compassionate healthcare. We offer a number of full-scope medical services, some of which are an unexpected take on maintaining health. Here are five nuggets about FHC, the work we do, and why we are in the business of caring for Waco and McLennan County residents.

1. We believe everyone should have access to quality primary care. Regardless of background, financial status, or medical history, everyone deserves tools that will lead to the longest and healthiest life possible. FHC is dedicated to providing medical, dental, and behavioral health services to underserved communities across our region. Of the nearly 60,000 patients served in 2017:

  • 97% were at or below 200 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines
  • About 9,300 indicated they were homeless, and
  • 31% were uninsured.

Services at FHC are designed with patients in mind. We operate 14 clinical sites to maximize accessibility, as many of our patients have limited mobility or access to transportation. Additionally, some FHC clinics accommodate working patients’ schedules by staying open 55 hours per week, including most evenings and Saturday mornings. The main site (1600 Providence) features an in-house pharmacy that provides significant discounts to qualifying patients for brand-name prescriptions. FHC also works to maximize reach and impact through partnerships with groups like McLennan County Health Services, local hospitals, United Way, MCC, Baylor, and others.

2. We will celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2020. FHC was founded in early 1970 after local medical providers identified a gap in care for Wacoans without commercial health insurance, as well as a shortage of doctors in the Waco area. The center was developed by leaders in local business, politics, and medicine. Since that time, FHC has been committed to its mission of providing primary care to those for whom access to healthcare has been historically limited.

3. We are home to one of the most competitive residency programs in Texas. The Family Medicine Residency Program (FMRP) began when Family Health Center first opened. It helped address the shortage of doctors in the Waco area and was one of the first accredited family medicine training programs west of the Mississippi River. Today, FMRP is in the top three percent of all programs nationally. More than half of the family medicine doctors practicing in McLennan County are program graduates, and more than half of all program graduates practice in Texas. The program is widely recognized for innovation in electronic health records for patients, curricular design, and quality of graduates.

In 2019, FMRP is a finalist for the Baldwin Award, a national honor recognizing residency programs that teach compassion-based patient care and provide excellent treatment of residents – which has been historically problematic in medical education environments across the country. Only six out of more than 10,000 residency programs across the U.S. are being considered for the award.

4. We are a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). This means we qualify for special government funding, receive enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, serve underserved people in a comprehensive way (medical, dental, behavioral, etc.), and provide a sliding fee scale for uninsured patients (that’s #5). FHC has to meet several other requirements – like having a board of directors that is majority FHC patients – but each requirement ensures the center provides the best possible care to patients.

5. We have options for the uninsured. With registration for the Affordable Care Act falling 4 percent this past December, it’s reasonable to assume more Wacoans will be uninsured than in recent years. The Good Health Card is a sliding fee scale offered by FHC to low-income patients without health insurance. Patients qualify for one of four categories, labeled A through D. Each category determines appointment co-pay (up to $20) and the percent paid by the patient for any services rendered (up to 50%). This sliding scale payment system is required for FHC to maintain its FQHC status, but it also helps create a system where traditionally underserved members of the community have access to necessary medical, dental, and behavioral health services across McLennan County.

Rae Jefferson is a creative, Netflix binger, and marketing professional, in that order. Originally from Houston, she stuck around Waco after graduating from Baylor University with a B.A. in Journalism, PR, & New Media and a minor in Film & Digital Media. Now she’s the Communications Director at Family Health Center, where she gets to spend each day serving Waco. When she’s not working, find her at home snuggled up with her dog-daughter, Charlie, watching “The Office” for the hundredth time.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

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