Daughters of Charity launches health care in N.O. East
Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans has emerged as a leader of primary health care in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on local health care.
Initially reopening one health center location in Metairie after the storm, the nonprofit now operates three state-of-the-art health centers – 111 North Causeway Blvd. in Metairie, at the former St. Cecilia School at 1030 Lesseps St. in Bywater and 3201 South Carrollton Ave. in New Orleans.
And now, it is building a fourth location in New Orleans East.
A temporary location will open May 7 in the former Methodist Hospital medical office building on Read Boulevard. Construction will begin this summer on the Daughters’ permanent, 15,000-square-foot two-story health center projected to be opened in the fall 2013.
Daughters offer funding
The facility will be funded with $2 million from the Daughters of Charity Foundation, a subsidiary of Ascension Health; an additional $2 million in Community Development Block Grants through the Orleans Parish Hospital Service District; and another $1 million donation from Johnson and Johnson.
Daughters of Charity Services is partnering with the city of New Orleans and the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, who are slated to manage the new hospital when it reopens on Read Boulevard.
“It is a great location to start a health care center and to partner with a hospital in an integrated system,” Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans president and CEO Michael Griffin said.
Daughters of Charity, known in New Orleans for operating Charity Hospital for the poor since 1834 and later Hotel Dieu, began reinventing the type of health care they would administer after selling Hotel Dieu in 1992.
A proven, neighborhood medical care model was adopted through Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans to bring services directly to clients, especially those in underserved communities.
“We focus on access and a lot on everyone having the highest quality care,” Griffin said. “The design is to provide the highest quality of care for everyone by having a built-in medical staff, facilities, the latest electronic equipment and our elements of prevention and education. We want to make our health centers their medical home.”
At all locations, primary and preventive health care is provided to all ages and stages of life, from prenatal and pregnancy to senior care. Education and individualized care plans that incorporate chronic illness management and behavioral health tips to ensure quality care are offered. Dental services, a pharmacy, lab and optometry services also are available.
“Eighty percent of what impacts a person’s health has nothing to do with health – physical activity, home environment and diet are the main determinants,” Griffin said. “Since Katrina, a major effort has been primary care and education of patients with a focus on pediatric care.”
Model proves successful
“We’ve grown at all three sites – close to 20,000 patients,” Griffin said.
In only a year, an additional dentist and two hygienists have been added to the staff at St. Cecilia; Carrollton has six providers and wants to add three more; and Metairie was recently renovated and has four providers. Most of the staff in Metairie and on Carrollton is bilingual.
Partnering with the community is an important element of the health centers, Griffin said. For example, Daughters of Charity has worked with universities and academic medical centers such as Xavier University for pharmacy services, Touro Infirmary for obstetrics and Children’s Hospital for treating children.
Medical students are inspired
Daughters of Charity Health Centers also “train and inspire” the next generation of doctors to understand the model of quality care that Daughters of Charity Health Services of New Orleans provides. Griffin said more than 150 medical residents who have worked at the health centers and some have returned to work after completing their course of studies.
Following ethical and religious directives also is important to Daughters of Charity. Two Daughters of Charity remain active in the ministry – Sister Bonnie Hoffman, who is vice president of mission and who promotes the health centers in the community, and Sister Mary John Code, R.N., who is care management coordinator.
With the changes in health care – to provide insurance for all – on the horizon at the state and federal level, Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans has become a Medicaid enrollment site and has trained admissions staff to help direct clients to appropriate insurance. But those without insurance are not turned down. Daughters of Charity Services receives 60 percent of its funding from billing its clients and another 40 percent from grants.
“We’ve been very successful in getting patients insured,” Maureen Larkins, vice president for strategic and community affairs for Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans said. “It’s a necessity to help people help themselves. We have to educate people in a state of vulnerability.”
Griffin said Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans had discussed having a presence in New Orleans East since it sold Hotel Dieu.
“New Orleans East was going to be the first health center because primary care was needed there in the mid-1990s, but it never materialized,” Griffin said. “Now we’ve come full circle 20 years later. We’re going back to the East due to the lack of primary care, and now there’s a lack of all health services. We hope to start as the anchor of the redevelopment of health services in the community.”