By Margaret Brown
In May 2007, HealthWorks began offering core health care services to primarily low-income underinsured and uninsured individuals, regardless of age or ability to pay. Since then, more than 20,800 patients have received comprehensive quality care at HealthWorks. As a community health center, HealthWorks is supported by diverse funding sources, including local government, foundation and federal grants, as well as the generosity of the local community, accepting donations from individuals and other private organizations.
HealthWorks has received multiple grants from 100WomenStrong since 2009. These grants have fulfilled varying needs for the organization, including the purchase of a new pediatric ultrasound machine, specialized pediatric dental equipment and furniture and comprehensive dental care for low-income children and elderly who have no insurance. In addition to its full-service dental facility, HealthWorks offers primary care, gynecology, nutrition and behavioral healthcare, including psychiatry, all located on one site in Leesburg. While Medicare and Medicaid patients are accepted at HealthWorks, Medicare doesn’t cover dental care, creating a barrier for many elderly county residents.Carol Jameson, MSW, Chief Executive Officer of HealthWorks, explained that oral health is an integral part of primary healthcare. There is a correlation between oral health disease and diabetes and other ailments, which makes access to quality dental care important to those who may have a compromised physical health status. HealthWorks takes a comprehensive approach to health care. The nonprofit community health center creates one complete medical record for each patient.“Each caregiver only has to access one record to understand the overall health of the patient, what medicines he or she is taking, etc.,” she said. “Integrated healthcare is especially important when you have patients who haven’t had experience with the American healthcare system or don’t speak English well. With one record accessible to all providers, they can see what others are doing and can tell if a patient has followed up with another area of care when it is recommended.”
Offering a wide range of support in its Leesburg location makes it easier for patients who may not have transportation to see other doctors or visit the dental program when it is prescribed. “A primary care physician may realize a patient is in a situation that is impacting his or her emotional health,” Jameson explained. “We try to make it easy for therapists see the patient in the exam room at that time. We take a holistic approach.” HealthWorks is also proud to provide office space, at no charge, for one of Loudoun’s WIC (Women, Infants & Children) centers All Ages Read Together and Loudoun Literacy are able to offer their programs at Healthworks as well.
“It may not appear like it from Loudoun County neighborhoods, but there is a great deal of need here. Grants from local funding sources, such as 100WomenStrong, are vital for our ability to meet growing needs in our community. We strive to ensure that lack of financial resources is not a barrier to care for our patients.”
HealthWorks serves community residents of all ages, and its top three diagnoses are diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. “If you are working two or three jobs, the likelihood that you are going to have the time or energy to cook a lot of fresh vegetables may be slim,” Jameson explained. “We keep the financial picture – and the stresses it can create – in mind when we work with patients. We also keep the cultural picture in mind, because they may come from an area where there was no access to healthcare at all or where they took very different approaches.”
Jameson said that HealthWorks strives to work with other organizations such as Loudoun Free Clinic and Inova Loudoun Hospital to identify and remove barriers to better health for Loudoun County citizens.
“When we work with other groups, we can help create a holistic solution that will – hopefully – prepare individuals them for a better future,” she said. “What if we brought in English classes and job training? Then, over a few years, the patient improves his or her job status, goes from two jobs to one and has time for walking or cycling in the evening.
“Doing things like that, we can move beyond collaboration and have a collective impact that will better serve our community.”