Legacy Community Health Services (LCHS), a full-service, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with five main locations and a variety of secondary sites across the greater Houston area, is celebrating the grand opening of its newest clinic, Legacy Community Health Services South Park, at 4450 Highland Ave. in Beaumont at the former location of Ubi Caritas health clinic.
Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the public is invited to free crawfish, hot dogs and free health screenings for the entire family. Giveaways are planned to make this an event the whole family will enjoy on a first come, first serve basis. There will be a live DJ, raffles and children’s activities, and the South Park Elementary marching band and dance team will be there to celebrate the occasion.
“Come on out for free crawfish,” said Lydia Baehr, who is helping to organize and promote the event.
Baehr said that the event is meant to raise community awareness about the importance of staying healthy and visiting a doctor regularly, which might be especially difficult for low-income families and those who are uninsured.
“People who work in hospitality, restaurants and bars as well as artists and musicians — most of them are uninsured,” she said. “What ends up happening is when you end up sick, the only place you can go is the emergency room, and that’s not the best use of funds for healthcare. All these people waiting around for procedures could be taken care of by a physician at a place like Legacy.”
According to the Texas Medical Association (TMA), “Texas is the uninsured capital of the United States. More than 6.3 million Texans – including 1.2 million children – lack health insurance. Texas’ uninsured rates, 1.5 to 2 times the national average, create significant problems in the financing and delivery of healthcare to all Texans. Those who lack insurance coverage typically enjoy far-worse health status than their insured counterparts.”
The Golden Triangle region has an estimated uninsured rate of 24 percent, with the Southeast Texas Community Needs Assessment reporting an additional 29 percent of residents enrolled in public health coverage, according to TMA statistics. These numbers also show a particularly strong need for pediatric care, with nearly one-quarter of the population being minors and, of those, 7.3 percent being children under the age of 5.
On Oct. 1, 2012, Legacy Community Health Services partnered with Ubi Caritas in a mission to expand comprehensive health care services to a region of more than 91,000 uninsured residents, services funded in part by federal money, which Ubi Caritas alone would be unable to receive.
“After evaluating the needs of the Beaumont area, we decided this was a positive move for both us and the community,” LCHS Executive Director Katy Caldwell said. “Legacy’s mission is to serve diverse communities, particularly those where access to quality care is limited. Many of the Southeast Texas communities have been heavily impacted by the healthcare crisis and continue struggling to have their needs met.”
According to James Grant, director of development at Ubi Caritas, a full-time clinic in Beaumont that has provided healthcare to the uninsured since 1998, there really are not a lot of options for the uninsured when it comes to healthcare in this area.
“The first reaction for many people (who are uninsured) when they get sick is to go to the emergency room,” Grant said. This method of treatment is costing patients and taxpayers a fortune, said Kimberly Paulus, chief marketing and communications officer at Legacy.
“General stats are that for someone who walks in an emergency room that could be seen in a clinic, the cost to the system is about 10 times what it should be,” Paulus said. “We really focus on preventive care, not just emergent care or urgent care. Our goal is to ease the system by keeping families healthy all the time and helping them to be healthy before they get sick through regular checkups and regular exams.”
All Legacy campuses accept Medicaid, Medicare and CHIP, in addition to private insurance, and offer a five-tiered, sliding-scale payment system for patients who are uninsured or underinsured.
“We have an eligibility team that sits down with anyone who would like to receive care at our clinic and talk about their options,” Paulus said. “We take them through a process that discusses their potential access to Medicaid, Medicare, or up to $400 to 500 dollars (worth of) grant (money) that we have access to. Once we determine what monies might help them get the care that they need, we then allow them to see the doctors. Sometimes that is of zero cost to the patient and sometimes there is a sliding-scale fee depending on their income. The important thing is that no matter what program they fit in, we see them regardless of their ability to pay.”
The South Park campus, open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., is a community health center that not only offers healthcare from qualified physicians, but also convenience to its patients as well, Paulus said.
“Many patients have difficulty accessing transportation and it’s hard for them to take time off work,” she said. “When you come to our clinic, you get pediatrics, adult medicine and behavioral health all under one roof.”
Clinical services at South Park include:
• Adult primary care: preventative care and chronic treatment services for adult men and women
• Pediatrics: well child care and treatment for common illnesses for children 18 years of age and under
• Behavioral health services: assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness
According to its website, Legacy Community Health Services is accredited as a FQHC and non-profit health care organization that has received many awards including the Best Doctors in Houston Award in 2011 it was also named the Best Place to Work by the Houston Business Journal. For more information about Legacy, visit legacycommunityhealth.org or call (409) 242-2525. Ubi Caritas Dental Clinic, located next door to the Legacy South Park campus, provides general dentistry, walk-in services and same day emergency services for adults and children and accepts Medicaid, CHIPS, and patients without insurance. For an appointment or for more information call (409) 813-1702 or visit www.ubicaritas.org .