In 2013, Doctors Care celebrates its 25th anniversary. I’m humbled that what started as a grassroots effort has become a thriving network of nearly 1,000 primary care physicians and specialists, improving the lives of thousands of low-income and uninsured children, youth and adults. Additionally, six medical centers and their respective laboratory, radiology and pharmacy facilities partner with us. United by a shared community mission, these volunteer medical providers have donated approximately $100 million in services to Doctors Care patients.
At Doctors Care, our services are continually improving, and our programs are expanding all the time. We’re always trying to anticipate what’s next by monitoring trends in health care to help predict and shape the course of our future, redirecting our efforts accordingly.
It’s by listening carefully to our patients and peers; from clinics and hospitals to physicians, community organizations and community members, that we identified the need for this publication: a free, internet-based, interactive handbook for the safety-net community. As we reflect on the network of providers, hospitals, partners and volunteers that have achieved so much for patients in South Metro Denver over the past quarter-century, it’s our hope that the following pages will provide useful perspectives to other clinics seeking wellness for patients who require services beyond a primary care setting.
I’m often asked how Doctors Care works and how we manage to effectively care for the underserved in our community. That’s what this publication is all about - we want to share our model in hopes that it can be replicated elsewhere, in other communities.
It’s natural for physicians and providers to feel engulfed by the seemingly endless and dire needs of the medically underserved. According to the Colorado Health Access Survey, the number of individuals in Colorado who either lack health insurance, or find it inadequate to cover their needs (underinsured), is more than 1.5 million. That’s one in three people, demonstrating a need for safety-net clinics to provide a wide range of health care services.
Here at Doctors Care, we’ve found a way to maximize health care for the uninsured without overwhelming participating doctors, while managing patient expectations at the same time. We’re here to serve our community members in need and renew hope in a broken medical system. So if you’re interested in starting or expanding a volunteer medical program, this responsive guide is for you.
This is our story of how to connect and leverage community resources (e.g., other nonprofits, private practices, hospitals, specialists and urgent care facilities) to create greater access to health care. I hope you’ll take from our best practices and lessons learned the tools, inspiration and motivation you need to deliver much-needed, affordable care in your community…one patient, one family at a time.
Beyond the processes and procedures outlined here, we understand that there are other decisions you may need to consider for this model to succeed in your community…we encourage you to make those decisions and move forward. Every community is different and each community’s response will be unique.
As a learning organization, we have done our homework, we have “been there and done that,” and we are proof positive that you, too, can succeed in developing creative solutions to meet the unique needs of your community. By following this model you can achieve the accountability, consensus and collective will to take on even the most daunting challenges of the safety-net model on which more and more individuals and families rely.
And if your cause does not happen to be caring for the medically underserved, perhaps you will apply the tools, lessons and principles described in this handbook to mobilize others toward another cause for the greater good. The functional goals and objectives set forth herein are transferrable, including making the most of dollars and resources, and providing value to both participants and recipients of a collaborative, community-based network.
Whatever your mission, we wish you success.
Doctors Care Staff