National health centers like River Valley are transforming health care

By Pat Sunderland


National health centers like River Valley are transforming health care | health, Business

River Family Health Center has offices in Montrose and in downtown Olathe (pictured).

River Valley Family Health Center was proud to celebrate National Health Center Week Aug. 7-13.

National Health Center Week is an annual celebration that gives health centers across the nation a chance to showcase their unique ability to take care of the needs of their communities. America's health centers have achieved an unparalleled record of stability, cost-effectiveness and quality improvement as they continue to grow to serve over 24 million people in over 9,200 communities. For over 50 years, community health centers have achieved significant cost savings, while improving health outcomes and increasing access to medically underserved communities.

"National Health Center Week has become an annual celebration when we showcase our highly effective health center model of care and focus public attention on a system of health care that continues to transform health delivery in the nation," said Debby Harrison-Zarkis, chief operating officer of the River Valley Family Health Center in Olathe and Montrose.

"River Valley, in 2015, had cost savings in excess of $3.3 million in health care costs for our patients alone," Harrison-Zarkis said. "That is over $1,260 in savings to our health care system per patient we serve. Since our inception in June of 2012, our patients' health outcomes also continue to improve."

One example is management of chronic diseases such as diabetes. River Valley is exceeding the Healthy People 2020 goals with slightly over 85 percent of its diabetic patients under control today.

Community health centers across the nation also reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the emergency room, as well as infant mortality rates.

As a member of the Migrant Coalition, River Valley has an eye on the health of migrant and seasonal farmworkers. The health center is helping organize a Multicultural Health Fair to be held Aug. 27 at Olathe Elementary School.

Health care centers also benefit the local economy. In 2015, River Valley was responsible for over 46 jobs and generated roughly $3.9 million in economic activity.

River Valley uses a team-based approach that focuses on primary, preventative and integrated health care.

The comprehensive list of clinic services includes family health, well women exams, colorectal screening exams, emergency room follow-ups, care of patients with acute and chronic illnesses, CDL/DOT physicals, well child exams and physicals, and treatment of minor injuries.

In addition to primary health care, River Valley Family Health Center partners with the Center for Mental Health to provide mental and behavioral health services.

"We want to ensure all of our patients have access to our high quality, preventative health care, immediate behavioral and mental health care, chronic disease management and case management at an affordable rate," Harrison-Zarkins said. "That is why we have continued to grow, adding several new providers. We will add many more once we open our new facility in Montrose."

All Points Transit is a valued partner, providing transportation from Delta to the clinic in Olathe. Details are available by calling 249-0128.

If you need a medical home, give River Valley Family Health Center a call at 323-6141. New patients are always welcome, regardless of insurance or lack thereof. A sliding fee schedule is available for those at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.