Indigent health care rising in Augusta

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 11:35 PM
Last updated 11:58 PM
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Krissy Wilkins sees it in her Olde Town neighborhood, in fellow patients she refers to nearby Christ Community Health Services, where her family gets care: young people without health insurance who “hope they don’t get sick,” she said.

Manny Wilkins, 4, gets his height checked by certified medical assistant Laura Schnetzler as his mother, Krissy Wilkins, and sister Abby, 2, look on at Christ Community Health Services.    RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF
RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF
Manny Wilkins, 4, gets his height checked by certified medical assistant Laura Schnetzler as his mother, Krissy Wilkins, and sister Abby, 2, look on at Christ Community Health Services.

Despite a new 12-exam-room Olde Town Community Health Center and a 10-room clinic on D’Antignac Street near University Hospital, there is always more
demand than the clinics can handle, said Dr. Robert Campbell, co-founder and medical director.

“Even though we have grown in our capacity to handle that need, there continues to be more need than we can meet at this point,” he said.

Indigent and charity care patients at two of Augusta’s largest providers bear that out. Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics and its physicians have provided $40.1 million for the first six months of 2011, compared with $32.1 million for the same period in 2010.

University is seeing more indigent and charity care for the first six months – $14.7 million in costs compared with $10.2 million for the same period last year.

“I believe it is the impact of this extended period of time where we’ve been seeing unemployment at 10 percent or more in our area,” University CEO Jim Davis said. “And I think people are just running out of benefits they used to have with their employers. It’s been a long time.”

They see it at Christ Community clinics, too, Campbell said.

“We consistently see patients who are looking for work and can’t get it, that are underemployed with jobs that don’t offer health insurance, that have recently lost their jobs and lost their health insurance,” he said.

Georgia Medicaid rules make getting on the program difficult for those who don’t have a disability or certain conditions, Campbell said.

To qualify for Low-Income Medicaid, a single mother with one child cannot earn more than $4,272 a year, according to Medicaid eligibility rules.

When there is no Medicaid coverage or insurance, the burden falls on the provider, Davis said.

“We become the safety net when there isn’t one,” he said.

University spends about $50,000 a month supporting Christ Community clinics in hopes patients will get better care, particularly for chronic conditions, and find a “medical home” that can help keep them out of the hospital or the Emergency Room, Davis said.

“Keep them healthier and keep our costs down,” he said.

At the Olde Town clinic, Wilkins waited with her 2-year-old daughter, Abby, and 4-year-old son, Manny. She likes that the clinic is in her community, where she volunteers to work with young people and children through the group Hope for Augusta.

Even though she has insurance, she uses the clinic because she likes the people and her family gets good care.

“We like going to the same facility that we would send neighborhood children to as well,” Wilkins said.

Comments (13) Add comment
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cytoranger
6
Points
cytoranger 08/30/11 - 11:03 pm
0
0
Prepare Augusta. There is

Prepare Augusta. There is some bad news on the horizon

mike71345
75
Points
mike71345 08/31/11 - 01:30 am
0
0
Even worse news is that the

Even worse news is that the Christ Community Health Services property was re-zoned from residential to professional.
(Sorry, that's an inside joke. I'm sure the Olde Town Neighborhood Association will understand it, though.)

corgimom
38720
Points
corgimom 08/31/11 - 03:41 am
0
0
It's getting bad in Augusta,

It's getting bad in Augusta, regardless of what Countyman says. If you really want to know the state of a municipality's economy, measure the demand on social service agencies. That tells you more than any PR releases about phantom future jobs.

SCyankee
0
Points
SCyankee 08/31/11 - 06:14 am
0
0
No insurance, no means of
Unpublished

No insurance, no means of paying for services = No care or services

That's how real life works....sorry!

allhans
24964
Points
allhans 08/31/11 - 07:58 am
0
0
Aren't these programs

Aren't these programs intended for needy people and not for those who can afford a primary care physician.
It seems unfair that those who have no choice have to wait behind a person who have a choice.
It's like me going to the ER rather than my own private physician.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 08/31/11 - 08:47 am
0
0
Even though Ms. Wilkins has

Even though Ms. Wilkins has insurance, she uses the clinic. What does that mean? The clinic can file on her insurance? I don't know how clinics work...................................

augustapoz
2
Points
augustapoz 08/31/11 - 09:48 am
0
0
Most of the "neighborhood"

Most of the "neighborhood" clinics are actually there to make a profit and do. There are few if any clinics in the area that will see patients without making them pay on a sliding fee scale. Some of the best work in the city is being done by some of the places that aren't even mentioned in this article. Harrisburg Family Healthcare, Druid Park and others worry less about how much they are making and more about how many they can help. It's a shame that this article doesn't even mention them and all they do with so few resources.

harley_52
26074
Points
harley_52 08/31/11 - 09:52 am
0
0
So, I guess "indigent"

So, I guess "indigent" doesn't really mean "indigent."

seenitB4
98507
Points
seenitB4 08/31/11 - 10:19 am
0
0
Yep corgi...you are

Yep corgi...you are right.....if this country doesn't take it's head out of the... eerr "sand".....it will only get worse...
pr men are a dime a dozen....now you see them---now you don't!!

cityman
-6
Points
cityman 08/31/11 - 11:01 am
0
0
Times are dire and the most
Unpublished

Times are dire and the most urgent educational medical need that we have is birth control and family planning to avoid a future health care meltdown.

crazyann42
0
Points
crazyann42 08/31/11 - 11:58 am
0
0
Cityman --- Birth control?? I

Cityman --- Birth control?? I agree 1000% but why would someone who works but can't get insurance not want a baby and stay home all day so they can see a doctor?? I've always had a job, but NEVER insurance until i got married (thankfully my hubs employer provides it). Would it have been better to have a child while I was single so that I got to stay home with he/she and been able to still get my physicals? It's not birth control planning that needs to happen! Tighter controls on the end of Medicaid need to be done. It shouldn't be available to those who CAN work but choose not to - with or without children! There are too many pple around who choose to stay home who can work. Not only does the burden fall on healthcare facilities but also on those who DO have insurance..our premiums go up! Its a all around mess.

allhans
24964
Points
allhans 08/31/11 - 12:30 pm
0
0
When an applicant accepts a

When an applicant accepts a job knowing health care is not offered, then whose fault is it if they have none?

j-campbell
2
Points
j-campbell 08/31/11 - 01:24 pm
0
0
Christ Community Health

Christ Community Health Services does accept paying patients and does process insurance claims. My understanding is that they welcome such business to help defer the cost of the indigent care that they provide.

whatdoIknow
0
Points
whatdoIknow 08/31/11 - 04:22 pm
0
0
Wrong, they have a system in

Wrong, they have a system in which they fully screen a client and their ability to pay for services if they do not have insurance. They actually have a system where clients have to attend an orientation before even getting an official appointment! In addition to the clinics mentioned by augustapoz, St. Vincent dePaul, whom I support monthly, continues to serve the very least of these in our community. Something Dr. Campbell claims to do, even saying that at the ribbon cutting at the Widows Home. It is so easy for people to hide behind the word Christ. But if you only knew. Furthermore, they do not accept paying patients and insurance claims in order to defer indigent care. They do so because at the end of the day they are in it to make money! Seriously, would you not think that $50K from UH every month would be enough to defer the costs? Especially considering all the indigent patients all the other clinics see DAILY! If that is all Christ Community saw each day, they would be out of business in a week! Do the math Augusta, they are a load of kroc. Sorry Kroc Center no need to offend with my pun!

Cassandra Harris
-3
Points
Cassandra Harris 08/31/11 - 04:38 pm
0
0
"When an applicant accepts a

"When an applicant accepts a job knowing health care is not offered, then whose fault is it if they have none?"

Because there is a job shortage right now if you haven't noticed the news, because they want to be employed, even if they are underemployed, because not all people have had the same advantages in life and are trying to get by the best they can in a nation that seems to do it's darndest to do as much damage as they can to the working poor. Would you rather they not work at all? Some people seem to find fault no matter what the topic, especially if the topic is dealing with those not as "blessed" financially as others.

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