Clinic in Olney expands with ‘wraparound service’ to accommodate newly insured

    An expanded health clinic in North Philadelphia is prepping for an onslaught of card-carrying, newly insured people in the neighborhood.

    The Rising Sun Health Center is led by nurses and the primary care providers there are nurses.

    Clinical director Mariam Salahou says patients notice a difference.

    “They tell us all the time. They get enough of our time,” Salahou said. “Nurses are very good at giving education.”

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    The new center, now located in Olney Plaza, added eight exam rooms and is hiring three more nurse practitioners, Center leaders say they are most excited about space for navigators who will help patients sign up for health insurance and an office for a full-time social worker who will help knock down barriers to healthy behavior.

    Those extras — sometimes called wraparound services — are key to making the Affordable Care Act work, says Richard Cohen, president of the Public Health Management Corporation.

    “The only way we will be able to provide enough services to people as more and more people have insurance of some sort is to have a wider array of options,” Cohen said. “Federally qualified health centers and our centers are exactly that, they are points of access that are close to people in the communities where they live.”

    Rising Sun is among the health centers across the country that have received millions in federal funding to help implement the Affordable Care Act.

    The 2012 Pennsylvania Household Health Survey — conducted by Cohen’s group — estimates there are about 35,500 uninsured people in the Olney neighborhood. And Cohen said about 20,000 Olney residents don’t have a regular source of health care.

    The Rising Sun is a program of the Public Health Management Corporation

    In the past, booking a health checkup at Rising Sun could take up to six weeks. Center leaders say they hope to reduce that wait time to about three weeks.

    Rafael Dieppa, director of Health Centers for the PHMC Health Network, says right now the center serves about 40 or 50 people a day. The expanded center may be able to serve 100 to 150 patients daily, he said.

    Disclosure: The Public Health Management Corporation supports WHYY’s health desk.

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