Published on June 23, 2017

Area organizations explore merge to improve community health care

By Melanie Coen, Lawrence Journal World 
on June 23, 2017Health Care Access and Heartland Health logos

    Lawrence, Ks - Heartland Community Health Center and Health Care Access would like to announce that the two organizations have signed a non-binding Letter of Intent to merge. While a final decision has not been made, the two organizations have been in board conversations to explore better serving the community through a merged organization. As plans progress, the two entities are targeting January 2018 as a potential merge date.

    Heartland and Health Care Access have been in ongoing discussions, regarding possible ways to join, for several years. However, the benefits of such a merger became even more evident recently, as local health care needs have evolved and changes at the state and federal levels have created increased barriers.

    “This is just the beginning of something new, exciting and hopeful in health care for Lawrence and Douglas County,” said Heartland CEO Jon Stewart. “The shortcomings of our health care system have yet to be adequately addressed in Topeka, KS and Washington DC. A major part of the answer is to have a robust multi-disciplinary system of primary medical, behavioral and oral health care. Local collaboration is one attainable step in that direction.”

    In the hopes of reaching more people in need of affordable, assessible health care, Heartland has tapped into the long-standing Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) model, becoming a recognized FQHC practice in 2012. Health Care Access, in recognizing the power of a shared vision, has declared their interest in joining forces to further expand this capability for the community. A merger between the two agencies would leverage the resources and assets of Heartland’s FQHC status, the 30 year service history and community relations of Health Care Access, and the supportive role of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The anticipated result is a well-supported, unified, community health access point that will provide comprehensive services to all in need.

    “The potential for our organizations to leverage the talents and assets entrusted to us together is exciting,” said Health Care Access CEO Beth Llewellyn. “Along with LMH, and other health care organizations in this community, we are collaborating in ways that will overcome barriers to care and create healthier people and communities.”

    Organizations, such as Lawrence Memorial Hospital, have shown support for the potential collaboration. Recent strategic planning at the hospital involved re-commitment to delivering health services when and where they are needed, forming community partnerships and working together for a seamless experience, both inside and outside the hospital facilities.

    “Lawrence Memorial Hospital has an opportunity here to establish ourselves as a lifelong partner in the health of our community by supporting this collaboration and the patients these organizations exist to serve,” said Lawrence Memorial Hospital CEO Russ Johnson. “We look forward to further supporting this type of community investment.”

    It will take a number of months to work through the due diligence that is required to ascertain how the two organizations might best achieve a merge.

    Heartland Community Health Center serves Douglas County and surrounding areas with primary care, mental health care, psychiatry, dental care, physical therapy and a variety of assistance programs and wrap-around services. They offer care to all community members in their catchment area, regardless of income or insurance status. As well as being an FQHC, Heartland is also a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), which is a model that emphasizes patient accessibility, as well as coordinated, compassionate and integrated care to ensure that all needs are met.

    Health Care Access has been a health care provider to persons with limited financial means in Douglas County for 29 years. Health Care Access’ approach emphasizes access to a continuum of community-based services in order to promote health and well-being, employing collaboration and advocacy to support their efforts. The clinic provides a comprehensive care approach with three medical provider teams, counseling, referral and wellness services. Health Care Access is also a Level 3 PCMH.

    Heartland Community Health Center 
    346 Maine Street, Ste. 150 
    Lawrence, KS 66044 

    Health Care Access 
    330 Maine Street 
    Lawrence, KS 66044

    For more information, please contact: Melanie Coen/ Communications Coordinator/ Heartland Community Health Center/ 785.841.7297 x209/

    Tagged: mergercommunityHeartlandHeartland Community Health Centerclinicuninsured,safety netHealth Care Access

    Area organizations explore merge to improve community health care

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