Safety net clinics are essential community partners in our shared goal of improving the health of individuals and communities. Community-funded clinics, rural health clinics, free clinics, school-based health centers, and Federally Qualified Health Centers are vital parts of Colorado's health care safety net, providing quality care for the state's most under-resourced populations.
We're committed to supporting access to care and the safety net through a variety of ways.
Through our Safety Net Specialty Care Program, Kaiser Permanente specialists provide advice electronically to safety-net clinics for their uninsured adult patients. The program also provides face-to-face specialty care visits for safety-net patients and medical education opportunities to safety-net providers. Since 2013, the program has contributed to the care of more than 3,200 unique patients, many of whom would have likely sought care at an emergency department or gone without care altogether.
“The opportunity to provide broad-based medical specialty advice and select, face-to-face care for safety-net patients truly aligns with Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the care of our communities,” said John Riopelle, DO, Kaiser Permanente gastroenterologist. “In addition, our providers enjoy the satisfaction of caring for under-resourced populations and delivering advice and care to help meet the needs of our local safety net partners and their patients.”
We supported a cohort of grantees, called ASCENT, to increase and improve access to specialty care for low-income adults from 2018 to 2022. The Colorado Health Institute, which worked to convene and facilitate the cohort, published an evaluation report that highlights the cohort’s accomplishments during the first 3 years. They also provide policy recommendations that would help more people access medical specialists. The final year of funding continued the focus on practical and policy solutions.
The Virtual Care Innovation Network initiative focused on increasing access to high-quality care by expanding and strengthening virtual care delivery for vulnerable populations, including people experiencing homelessness.
The initiative supported 59 safety-net organizations, including 4 Colorado participants, through rapid design, testing, and shared virtual care strategies.
The initiative included a wide range of strategies and modalities such as:
Colorado participants included Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Denver Health, Clinica Family Health Services, and STRIDE Community Health Center. The program started in March 2021 and was completed in May 2022.
Community health centers serve roughly 29 million patients nationwide, including over 7 million people in Kaiser Permanente’s communities. Among those served nationwide, 91% have low income and 63% are racial or ethnic minorities. As trusted health care providers in low-income communities, safety-net clinics are well-positioned to address equitable vaccination administration but need support to increase capacity.
Throughout the course of a year, starting in Spring 2021, Kaiser Permanente provided funding to 11 community health centers to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations in communities already disproportionately affected by the virus. More than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines were administered because of this investment.
As part of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to advancing racial and health equity, we supported Tepeyac Community Health Center, Inner City Health Center, and Salud Family Health Centers as part of a larger cohort to reach communities most impacted by COVID-19. This campaign engaged, informed, and supported patients in safely pursuing activities of daily life while reducing the risk of infection.
Grant funding and communications technical assistance was provided by Public Good Projects to support trusted messengers, disseminate culturally relevant information, and engage influential social media personalities. Collectively, the outreach campaign activated more than 500 social media influencers and cohort members provided more than 320 COVID-19 related webinars and other virtual events. Print materials reached over 1.4 million people and an estimated 114,000 COVID-19 vaccines were administered.