Circle of Care wins federal status

Published on Monday, 29 July 2013 21:17 - Written by Staff reports

Tyler Family Circle of Care will replace Total Healthcare as Smith County’s Federally Qualified Health Center after the Total Healthcare center lost its eligibility status in February.

“The news that Tyler Family Circle of Care clinics was awarded the FQHC designation by (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS) is beyond exciting and extremely timely for our community,” Tyler Family Circle of Care Board President Loretta Swan said in a news release. “We are so grateful to our physicians, midlevel providers, staff and partners for helping us reach this significant milestone. We look forward to serving the needs of the patients of our community and having an impact on their quality of life.”

Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) is a reimbursement designation given to health care centers that provide primary and preventive care to all ages regardless of their ability to pay or health insurance status, the release states. Services including health, oral and mental health/substance abuse services.

According to an October 2012 site visit report, HRSA officials recorded numerous financial, administrative and staff issues that had not been resolved since a previous visit in April 2012.

Representatives from Total Healthcare could not be reached by email Monday evening.

Lindsey Birdsong, a Tyler attorney representing Total Healthcare, said in a May statement that the (Health Resources Services Administration or HRSA) pulled the funding “because Total Healthcare Center did not timely comply on a condition for the grant for billing and collections policies.”

He said the clinic asked for clarifications from HRSA and planned to appeal the decision.

“In any event, this has nothing to do with providing good patient care and services to the community; it would be unfortunate to pull the grant over such an issue,” Birdsong said in May.

Federal dollars will cease coming to the Total Healthcare clinic on Aug. 31, and will go to Tyler Family Circle of Care beginning Sept. 1, the release states. The grant will be a two-year renewable award, and will be contingent on the clinic meeting Health Resource Services Administration regulations.

Tyler Family Circle of Care had to show strong community support, need for the status, and a board of directors in which at least 51 percent of the members or their immediate family receive services from the clinic to receive the designation, the release states.

“Our clinic met and exceeded all of the FQHC requirements. The board is representative of all the people we serve including gender, ethnicity, and understanding the need for affordable, quality healthcare, but we could not have done this on our own,” Mary Elizabeth Jackson, CEO of Circle of Care, said in the release. “(We have) a long-term relationship with UT Health Northeast Family Practice Residency Program to serve the patients and their families who seek care. Both entities anticipate continuing and expanding that collaboration.”

The clinic has two Tyler Locations on North Broadway and Houston Street, according to its website. The clinic, originally called the FamilyCARE Center, was part of Trinity Mother Frances Hospital and Clinics. It formed in 1993 to provide pediatric and women’s health care, but branched away from Mother Frances in 2011 to expanded services, according to the website.

“Trinity Mother Frances is proud to have supported the clinic since its inception in 1993 with a financial donation of over $70 million,” said Lindsey Bradley, president and CEO of Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals & Clinics. “As the clinic continues to grow on its own, Tyler Family Circle of Care will forever be in the hearts of everyone at Trinity Mother Frances.”

Ms. Jackson said the added federal dollars would help the clinic expand its services to meet community needs.

“It is now really a decision for the whole community to support medical services to those who can least afford them,” she said. “We are seeing the next generation of patients using our clinics and the FQHC status will let us serve the whole family.”