CHI WELCOMES YVETTE CASAS, DIRECTOR OF MANAGED CARE

Yvette Casas is the new Director of Managed Care at CHI. The department oversees referrals, HEDIS (Health Effectiveness Data and Information Set), a set of managed care performance measures, Care Coordination, and Comprehensive AIDS Resources and Education Services (CARES). Yvette began the first stage of her career working for Ocean Bank as a lending officer after she received her Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Florida International University. She later returned to school to get her BSN nursing degree from Barry University.

Although initially focused on clinical work at Jackson Memorial Hospital and later Baptist Health, she took an administrative position at a Federally Qualified Health Center as a program manager and nursing administrator. Most recently she was the Health Services manager at Leon Medical Center Health plans where she led Care Coordination, Disease Management, and Case Management for the Managed Care Organization. She believes her primary goal is to assist not only the patients, but the providers at CHI to continue the mission of the organization.

MEET OUR NEW DIRECTOR OF PATIENT SERVICES SANDRA REYES

Sandra Reyes is the new Director of Patient Services. Reyes comes with more than 20 years of experience in the Healthcare industry which includes software and administration knowledge.

She received her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University, in New Jersey and a master’s degree from Florida International University. Reyes later worked as an adjunct faculty member at Nova Southeastern University where she combined her experience and education by teaching health care professionals. She has experience in analysis of workflows and success in finding strategies to improve them.

These opportunities cemented the success of Community Health Centers to consistently meet organizational goals and increase efficiencies. She also has strong collaborative skills and has been credited with the development and implementation of new health care technology.

Reyes said she hopes her leadership of the department will help improve the overall patient experience at Community Health of South Florida, Inc.

FASTING AWAY THE EXTRA WEIGHT

It is that time of the year when everyone wants an easy, fast way to get rid of all the extra pounds gained during the holidays. Some turn to fasting as a way to lose the weight. Those who do it drink only water or juice and avoid food for 24-48 hours. Many religions promote the practice but medical experts caution people from doing it.

“A lot of churches will do this without checking on these things and that’s not good,” said Gloria Fuller, Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) Registered Dietitian. “If someone is diabetic, if they’re hypertensive or if they’re on medications that’s problematic. Many medications require food.”

For most healthy adults fasting for a couple days won’t be dangerous. But it can be for those with chronic diseases, the elderly, pregnant women or children. Plus, Fuller says you are not losing weight during that period.

“The first 24 hours is really water loss more than anything,” she said. “But the next day you’re going to eat twice as much and be right back where you were. That’s the problem.”

Fasting for extended periods of time can have serious effects on your health. You will lose muscle because you don’t have the energy to exercise, you can experience dizziness, headaches, low blood sugar, dehydration, and more. Plus, your body learns to burn calories at a slower rate to conserve. That means when you go back to eating, you gain weight more easily.
The bottom line is there is no easy way to drop the weight.

“Weight loss is exercise plus portion control,” said Fuller. “So, you need to expend more energy than you put in. You need to exercise no less than an hour every day. So, its calories in, energy expended.”

CHI has two nutritionists that can help you plan your diet. Just ask your doctor for a referral and start losing weight the healthy way.

DENTAL SEALANTS PROTECT TEETH AS YOUR CHILD GROWS

Eight-year-old Genesis Guevara loves to smile and wants to keep her pearly whites healthy. Unlike her 4 siblings, she has never had a cavity. On her regularly scheduled dental cleaning at Community Health of South Florida’s Doris Ison Dental Department, the hygienist suggests that she gets sealants on her back teeth.

“Sealants are very important,” said Dr. Sheri Watson-Hamilton, Director of CHI Dental. “Sealants help prevent cavities on children when they get their first molars and premolars, the larger teeth in the back of the mouth.”

These back teeth have grooves that you can feel if you run your tongue along the back of your mouth. Those grooves can collect bacteria and dirt, despite brushing.

“The sealant actually creates a barrier,” said Dr. Watson-Hamilton. “This helps save you money in the long run by preventing cavities.”

For Genesis’ mom, Patricia Galindo, this is an easy decision. “I get worried about cavities. So, this is a good option.”
The sealant is like a varnish that is painted on the back teeth. It hardens immediately and serves as a barrier, preventing food and acid from going into the teeth’s grooves. It’s recommended that children receive the sealant sometime between the age of 5 and 6 and then again around age 12. The sealant contains small amounts of Bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA. That’s the chemical found in water bottles and plastic food containers. BPA has been linked to negative health effects on the body. But according to the American Dental Association, there are only trace amounts and sealants are not a threat to a child’s health.

“The Pediatric Dental Association recognizes sealants as part of the quality of care,” said Dr. Watson-Hamilton. Now there are more oral health initiatives that are increasing the uses of dental sealants and fluoride varnishes. So, the combination of those two are helping reduce cavities.”

Sealants are covered by most dental insurance plans for kids up to the age of 12.

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE DECEMBER 2018

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all of you. Its been a tremendous year for Community Health of South Florida, Inc (CHI) and I want to thank you for your support. Our Teaching Health Center graduated its second class of residents in 2018 and became an ACGME accredited program. CHI made national headlines when we hosted Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for a roundtable discussion with our leadership and patients about access to care. We also started a new forensic program to bridge court services with mental health care. Plus, in 2018, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recognized CHI as a Health Center Quality Leader, placing us among the top 30 percent of Federally Qualified Health Centers nationwide in clinical quality measures. Those are just a few of the outstanding achievements of this organization and I could not be prouder of the accomplishments of this team.

None of this would be possible if legislators in Washington didn’t lend their support. I want to thank our Senate and Congressional leaders for ensuring that Community Health Centers like CHI have the funding we need to carry out our mission.
We have come so far, yet we have so much further to go. CHI is committed to making the Children’s Crisis Center a reality. We hope to break ground next year so that families have the intensive treatment that is needed for children with severe mental health issues. Beyond this, we will be starting our Coconut Grove expansion project to better meet the needs of our community in the Grove. Our health center at 3831 Grand Avenue, Miami FL 33133 will nearly double in size after the completion of this project. This will allow us to offer more services at that site.

Parking is almost always an issue in South Florida and CHI promised our patients easier access to our health centers. This year we completed the expansion of the parking lot at our Doris Ison Health Center and we recently added lifts to our West Kendall Health Center to increase parking availability. The same was added previously to the South Miami Health Center. West Kendall, South Miami and Coconut Grove Health Centers also offer free valet parking.

This organization was founded in 1971 to ensure that everyone has access to care and we remain committed to that objective. May the New Year bring even more possibilities for CHI and those that we serve.

Warm Greetings,

Brodes H. Hartley Jr.
President and CEO

LEGISLATION APPROVED TO HELP FUND COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS

The holidays came early in Washington D.C. as legislators in the House voted 361 to 61 to approve $1.63 billion in funding for community health centers for 2019. The Senate previously passed the bill 93 to 7.

The bipartisan support will be combined with $4 billion authorized earlier in the year bringing the total support to $5.6 billion.

“This is tremendous news for Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) and Health Centers throughout this county,” said Brodes H. Hartley Jr., CHI President and CEO. “Community Health Centers care for some of this nation’s most underserved communities including 13 million people living in poverty. Everyone deserves access to high-quality healthcare.”

The majority of community health center patients are uninsured or publicly insured. Health Centers like CHI are open to everyone, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. It offers a sliding fee scale option based on a patient’s income to make healthcare affordable and obtainable. In addition, federally qualified health centers like CHI offer a comprehensive set of services such as primary care, pediatrics, OB/GYN, dental, behavioral health, urgent care, vision, pharmacy, laboratory, radiology, and more.

Marina Vacas is one of CHI’s 83,000 patients and among the country’s 28 million community health center patients. She became a CHI patient about 20 years ago. At the time she was unemployed and uninsured and had issues with her cholesterol and calcifications in her breasts.

“It was a relief, recalled Vacas. “I came here, and it was very affordable to have my mammograms or my check-ups, my blood tests, and all that.”

She said if she didn’t have CHI, she likely wouldn’t seek care and her health would suffer. Such is the case for so many patients who now benefit from the newly released federal funding.

“In this country, especially here in Miami Dade, it is very difficult,” said Vacas. “We need these centers.”

The money will help fund quality improvements, expansions, and support for behavioral health and substance abuse disorders.

“We are so very grateful to all lawmakers in both the House and Senate for their dedication and hard work on behalf of the Health Centers Program, and look forward to working with all Members in the coming year to secure long-term, stable funding that ensures the sustainability and success of health centers long into the future,” said Tom Van Coverden, President of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC).

Photo: (Left to right) Manuel Garcia, MD., Molrine Tracey, MD., Elizabeth Philippe, MD., Saint Anthony Amofah, MD., Tamara Wright, MD., Abiona Redwood, MD., Edgard Nunez, MD.

CHI RECOGNIZED AS HEALTH CENTER QUALITY LEADER WITH HRSA AWARD

Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) is recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) as a “Health Center Quality Leader.” CHI received the award for placing among the top 30 percent nationwide in clinical quality measures.

“This award shows our commitment to providing top quality care,” said Brodes H. Hartley Jr., President/CEO at CHI. “Our patients can expect that we will always go above and beyond to strive for the best outcomes so that they can lead healthy lives.”

HRSA awarded the designation by comparing CHI’s clinical quality measures to more than 13,000 other health centers throughout the United States.

“Thank you for your commitment to providing quality primary health care services to your community,” wrote George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D, HRSA Administrator in a letter accompanying the award.
Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI) started out as a beacon of hope for the uninsured more than 45 years ago. Today, it has grown into a comprehensive nonprofit health care company that cares for nearly 83,000 insured and uninsured patients every year. It has 11 health centers spanning from Coconut Grove into the Keys. It also has 35 school-based health centers and a teaching health center. CHI is accredited by the Joint Commission and recognized by the National Committee on Quality Assurance as a Level III Patient Centered Medical Home and CHI was the 2nd Federally Qualified Health Center in the nation to be designated as a Behavioral Health Medical Home. CHI is also the winner of the Florida Governor’s Sterling Award.

CHI has a one-stop shopping model that allows patients to utilize several services in one location. It has primary care, pediatrics, OB/GYN, dental, behavioral health, vision, urgent care, pharmacy, radiology and laboratory services. CHI even offers free transportation for patients going to and from doctor’s appointments and delivers low-cost prescriptions at no delivery charge.
CHI is also home to the Brodes Hartley Jr. Teaching Health Center. The residency programs are accredited by the American Osteopathic Association and transitioning to Accreditation Counsel on Graduate Medical Education.

For more information, visit our website at www.chisouthfl.org.

FUNDING FOR COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS REAUTHORIZED

Intense concern and worry over funding is alleviated after Congress passed legislation to fix the health center funding cliff with a two-year extension and $600 million in additional dollars to further support health center operations and address unmet needs.  The news came as a huge comfort to Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI) and other community health centers nationwide who had been waiting on reauthorization of funding since October 2017.

The good news didn’t stop there. Congress also reauthorized funding for two years for Teaching Health Center GME programs such as the Brodes H. Hartley Teaching Health Center at Community Health of South Florida, Inc. CHI’s teaching health center develops and trains medical residents to address a looming shortage of primary care physicians. The extension of funding for that program helps realign finances by closely linking them to the true cost of training physicians in primary care specialties

“This is a win, win situation for everyone,” said Brodes H. Hartley Jr., President and CEO of CHI. “It’s a win for the of 83,000 patients that we care for every year. We manage diseases for them, heal their ailments and care for them physically and mentally. This is also a win for our employees who devote themselves to caring for these people and a win for our residents learning to care for a diverse population.”

The victory comes just days after an all-out advocacy effort. CHI employees adorned themselves in red to show a passion and urgency for healthcare funding. The National “Red Alert Day,” on February 6th prompted CHI staff and people across the country to post photos on social media and make phone calls and emails to U.S. Congressional and Senate leaders urging them to address the funding cliff facing community health centers nationwide. The health of 27 million Americans was in jeopardy. Those people rely on Community Health Centers to provide high quality, affordable healthcare. 

Licensed Mental Health Technician and Coordinator for Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement, Celia Mion, wore red pants on Red Alert Day in honor of CHI’s mission.

“I really believe in bringing healthcare to all people,” said Mion. “We need it not only for people who can’t afford it, but also the people who rely on these programs to improve their lives regardless of economics.”

Latricia Segura-Branch PharmD, a pharmacist at CHI wore a large red flower in her hair along with fellow pharmacy staff. She knows the dire need and said without support for life-saving medications and medication management services that community health centers provide, patients are in danger. 

“If there were no pharmacies in community health centers especially 340B pharmacies, patients would go without the proper medications that they need,” said Segura-Branch.

According to the National Association for Community Health Centers (NACHC) the extension of funds secures healthcare for27 million patients by ensuring thousands of sites will be able to keep their doors open.

For those tasked with the job of molding the next generation of doctors, reauthorization of funding for teaching health centers is a big burden relieved from their hearts and minds.

“Traditionally underserved rural and urban areas face the greatest challenges recruiting physicians,” said Dr. Saint Anthony Amofah, Chief Academic Officer and Chief Medical Officer. “We are so grateful that the federal government is helping with this investment to grow our own physicians. This goes a long way in addressing key healthcare gaps among some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care Program

Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care Program

We held a brunch on Saturday to honor the foster parents in our Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care Program. These parents really do some miraculous work with some of the most difficult children. They have turned lives around and been the saving grace for so many. CHI wanted to show these men and women that we appreciate what they do day in and day out.

Are Health Care Professionals Held to a Higher Personal Health Standard?

As a health care professional, should I be held to a higher standard for personal health?

As I type this blog entry, a half empty bag of red, white and blue peanut M&M’s sits on my desk and the yellow one on the cover of the bag is smiling at me. The good thing is that I’ve been sharing them. The bad thing is that I’ve been eating the majority and have since passed the recommended serving size at least a couple times.

So, the question I want an answer to is, should I – or better yet, could I – pull myself to eat better? After all, one of my unknown nicknames in college was “Snackers.” This was largely due to my ability to put away a family size bag of Doritos and soda or other obscene serving of junk food at a single 30 minute or less sitting and act like nothing happened. Granted, that was half a lifetime ago where I was nearly 40 pounds lighter, exercised almost daily and had the metabolism to match. Today, with three kids, occasional long work hours and only working out at home when I get five minutes instead of an hour at a gym, things are a little different. But, it’s not like I’m overweight. Or, at least that’s my opinion. My BMI would say otherwise. But as anyone who is on top of their game in their industry, don’t they all do whatever they can from every angle to stay on top? If that’s the case, should all people who work in the health care industry strive to achieve excellence in personal health?

On one side of the coin, people say obesity is a disease; and the United States is the second most obese industrial country in the world. On the other side of the coin, some think and say that obesity is not a disease and that it’s largely the result of lack of exercise and overeating. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, actually classifies obesity as a behavioral risk factor. So, essentially, as a health care professional, on both sides of the coin, am I being detrimental to my industry (not to even mention myself) by not being as optimally healthy of a person as possible?Healthy Selfie Blake Hall

On June 11, 2015, the “Healthy Self” campaign was launched by the Obama administration. Among many things, this campaign is a joint effort between the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services to promote healthy living. As of today, I’m going to participate in this campaign. It may not be right of me to ask or say that everyone in health care should be on a path to personal excellence in health, but as I strive to be on the top of my profession, I think it’s a step in the right direction.

Part of this pledge is to post any activity that shows commitment to being healthy and using #HealthySelfie on social media.  Your Healthy Selfie may show up on the White House’s website!Healthy Selfie Surgeon General