"Bridging the Gap" Program Reduces Emergency Department Use, Reduces Health Costs and Improves Health Metrics for Uninsured Residents of Rhode Island
PROVIDENCE, R.I., Nov. 1, 2018
PROVIDENCE, R.I., Nov. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Hispanic Rhode Islanders are nearly four times more likely to be uninsured than the rest of the RI population. Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic (CEHC), a volunteer-run free clinic located in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence, recently published data in the Rhode Island Medical Journal revealing the positive clinical and potential fiscal impact of the "Bridging the [Health Equity] Gap" (BTG) chronic disease management program supported by local funders and managed by CEHC staff and volunteers. Annie De Groot, MD (Volunteer Medical Director, CEHC) emphasized the importance of bringing this program to scale in RI, stating, "the overall savings from the emergency department (ED) diversion aspect of BTG could be as high as $781,122 annually if the program were to be expanded to 8,000 uninsured Hispanics, state-wide".
The BTG program, initiated in 2016 to address the negative impacts of uninsurance disproportionately felt by Hispanic Rhode Islanders, offers continuity of care, quarterly goal-setting appointments, and healthy lifestyle interventions. The publication reports on the initial 2016-2017 evaluation period, during which 549 uninsured, non-Medicaid-eligible participants with a pre-existing medical condition (such as pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and/or obesity) were enrolled. The data showed that BTG participants used the ED 60% less than local Medicaid-insured residents and had 61% fewer "potentially preventable" ED visits. Notably, patients with diabetes significantly improved their blood glucose levels and mean hemoglobin A1c (measures of diabetes wellness), and most patients with hypertension brought their blood pressure down to normal. Most importantly, these improvements were durable over time.
CEHC, a volunteer-run free clinic located in Providence, provides culturally-attuned and linguistically-appropriate medical care to uninsured Rhode Islanders. 80% of CEHC patients speak Spanish as their primary language, and nearly all are immigrants or refugees. Since the clinic's inception in 2007, volunteer providers have focused on prevention and health maintenance, giving patients the ability to improve their quality of life in the long-term. Prospective Volunteers and Donors are encouraged to visit www.aplacetobehealthy.org for more information.
Funding for the BTG program has been provided by: RI Foundation, BCBSRI, CVS Health, CharterCare Foundation, Carter Family Foundation, Textron Foundation, Episcopal Charities, United Way of RI, the City of Providence, the RIDOH, and many individual donors.
Annie De Groot, MD
Volunteer Medical Director,
Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic
60 Valley Street,
Providence, RI 02909
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