Rocking Horse Center received $100,000 on Thursday that will allow the center to add staff and expand services to treat patients battling chronic diseases.
Community Mercy Foundation donated the money to RHC as part of a collaborative effort to provide better access to care and improve the quality of life for people with illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
Dr. Yamini Teegala said officials are still in the planning stage of the initiative, but the money may be used to hire a new physician, a nurse practitioner and for programs to improve health education and prevention.
“I really think it’s going to improve access to care,” Teegala said.
The collaboration is an outgrowth of the Clark County Combined Health District’s Community Health Survey, which found the county ranks low in a number of health concerns compared to Ohio’s other counties.
Marianne Potina, vice president of mission integration at Community Mercy Health Partners, said many patients use the emergency department at the hospital to manage these diseases and struggle because they don’t see a doctor regularly.
As part of the effort, Potina said Community Mercy Health Partners emergency department staff will refer these patients to RHC to ensure patients receive regular treatment by a primary care physician.
Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said he hopes the initiative decreases the number of patients who come to the ER for “episodic care.”
“When the hospital discharges them, we’re going to hook them up with Rocking Horse so they can actually manage their condition,” Patterson said.
He said patients can lives with diabetes, congestive heart failure, COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease if the illnesses are managed correctly.
Teegala said RHC had about 9,000 adult patient visits last year and about 4,500 of those visits related to chronic diseases.
RHC currently has a waiting list to see patients, Teegala said, and the added staff will help the center treat patients.
Potina said the money from the foundation serves as seed money to help patients get access to the care they need to have a better quality of life.
Kristy Kohl McCready, executive director of Community Mercy Foundation, said funds for the initiative came from proceeds of its Nov. 23, 2013, gala fundraiser, “Our Town.”
She said the foundation, led by 16 local residents, donated the money toward the initiative to have an impact on the community.
Rocking Horse CEO Chris Cook said access to quality care for patients with chronic disease is a need not only in Clark County but statewide.
Cook said the funds will allow RHC to see more patients.
“They need some place other than the ER to come to manage their care. That can’t be the purpose of the ER for them. They need comprehensive, holistic care and we will be able to provide that with this expansion,” Cook said.