Rural Health Care, Inc. and Avera Marshall Announce Plan to Collaborate for Primary Care Clinic
Rural Health Care, Inc. (RHCI) and Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center announce plans to explore operating a primary care clinic in Marshall as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
Under the proposed plan, Avera Medical Group Marshall’s primary care clinic services would transition to operate as Access Health – Marshall on Avera’s Carlson Street campus at 1521 Carlson Street. Services offered would include family medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, and urgent care. Limited lab and imaging services would also be available at this site.
Pending approval from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) this fall, the clinic would be slated to open Jan. 1, 2022.
Patients would continue to receive the same high level of quality health care from providers and staff they know and trust in Marshall. Physicians, advanced practice professionals and staff would continue to be employed by Avera. Services would be leased to Rural Health Care, Inc. through a professional services agreement.
This option would allow Avera Marshall to adjust the campus remodeling project announced in August to better achieve the organization’s long-term goals and space needs.
Avera Marshall Regional President and CEO Debbie Streier said returning primary care to the Carlson Street campus in collaboration with RHCI and remodeling the Bruce Street campus offers wins for patients, community and Avera Marshall.
In addition to high-quality health care, benefits of an FQHC include a sliding-fee discount program and discounted pharmacy program for individuals who financially qualify.
“This collaboration expands access to high-quality care in rural communities. An FQHC is able to provide services to anyone regardless of their ability to pay or health insurance status – a model that fits so well with our Avera mission,” said Debbie Streier, Regional President and CEO, Avera Marshall. “While this collaboration would be new to us in Marshall, Avera and Rural Health Care, Inc. have partnered successfully for the last six years in several communities. The long-standing partnership between the two organizations is instrumental in being able to bring this program to our region.”
Created in 1991 under federal law, FQHCs are “safety net” health care providers that charge for services on a sliding-fee scale based on family income and size. Established in 1987, Rural Health Care, Inc. operates 12 other community based health centers throughout central South Dakota and southwest Minnesota. Locations in this area include Windom, Fulda, and Worthington in Minnesota and Brookings, South Dakota. RHCI is headquartered in Fort Pierre, S.D.
Operating as an FQHC, also referred to as a community health center, brings together RHCI’s experience in FQHC operations and the expertise and technology of Avera.
Jim Hardwick, CEO of Rural Health Care, Inc., said, “Avera’s willingness and enthusiasm to collaborate with RHCI would allow the clinic in Marshall to reach more individuals in need of quality health care. In today’s health care climate, increasing access to high-quality, cost-effective health care is the goal. This collaborative delivery model has a long history of reducing barriers while enhancing and expanding access to care.”
“We are excited about the potential to return medical services to our Carlson Street campus. It’s a beautiful, welcoming care environment. This also allows us to accomplish more with our remodeling of the Bruce Street campus and 1104 East College Drive building,” Streier said.
The remodeling will be focused on enhancing space, improving patient and staff experience and creating capacity for growth in specialty clinic services, therapy, dialysis, and more. Services offered at the Bruce Street and East College Drive locations would not be part of the FQHC.
“The previous remodeling plan accomplished a lot, but this new direction would allow us to do even more to enhance the patient experience and prepare for continued long-term growth of local medical services,” Streier said.