RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – For adults with disabilities, a significant barrier is finding healthcare that is appropriate to their needs, accessible, respects their dignity and promotes their independence. A new clinic at Riverside County Regional Medical Center (RCRMC), supported in part by a grant from the Riverside Community Health Foundation, aims to fill this need and improve health outcomes for this vulnerable population.
“As simple as it may sound, healthcare services for the disabled are not always that accessible,” said Dr. Scott Allen, medical director of the Access Clinic and associate clinical professor in the UCR School of Medicine. “Accessibility means a number of things. At a minimum, it means physical accessibility of the building, the clinic space, the exam table and the diagnostic and therapeutic areas. On a more broad level, it means services that are easy to access when they are needed and it means services that are tailored to the patient’s needs and culture.”
The Access Clinic is a primary care clinic that uses the “patient-centered medical home” model of care – a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – to more efficiently coordinate medical treatment between adult disabled patients, their family and caregivers, their primary care physician and specialists.
A primary goal of the clinic is to coordinate medical care among multiple providers, which might include specialist providers, such as nutritionists, physical and occupational therapists, ophthalmologists and psychologists. The clinic is working with RCRMC, the Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) and UCR medical school to develop a referral network of sub-specialists and other providers.
It currently operates eight half-days each week Monday through Friday and is accepting new patients. The clinic is housed within the Family Medicine Clinic at RCRMC and is staffed by Dr. Allen, Dr. Emma Simmons, associate dean for student affairs in the UCR medical school, Melissa Seinturier, a nurse case manager, and Eliza Vega, a health services assistant.
According to Allen, adults with disabilities often have multiple physical and mental health conditions and often go without adequate primary care, leading to increased risk for preventable diseases, such as diabetes and coronary heart disease, and premature death. A grant to RCRMC from the Riverside Community Health Foundation is helping fund equipment needed to make the clinic more accessible to patients with physical limitations.
“It’s essential that healthcare providers and non-profit organizations partner to create a strong network of services and resources to enhance access to affordable, quality care,” said Dr. Dan Anderson, President/CEO of Riverside Community Health Foundation. “We’re excited that this partnership and these grant dollars will improve care for adults with disabilities in our area. Riverside Community Health Foundation’s mission is to close healthcare gaps exactly like this one.”
“The Access Clinic offers a unique service to patients with complex medical issues who will benefit from a multidimensional level of care,” said Douglas Bagley, CEO of Riverside County Health Care system. “We are fortunate to have such specialized physicians and services in our clinics. We are looking forward to growth in this program as more patients become aware that it is here.”
“Medical home models already have a proven track record for improving health outcomes and using healthcare funding more efficiently,” said G. Richard Olds, dean of the UCR School of Medicine. “Adapting this approach to this special, and vastly underserved, patient population could very well become a model for other patient populations have complex healthcare needs.”
The Access Clinic currently accepts adults with chronic disabilities – such as cerebral palsy, developmental delay, Down’s syndrome, quadriplegia, autism, and disabling mental health conditions – who are disabled and covered by the Inland Empire Health Plan. The clinic can be reached at (951) 486-5573.
Kathy Barton, UCR School of Medicine
Tel: (951) 827-4598
Kim Trone, Riverside County Regional Medical Center
Tel: (951) 486-4134
Lauren Scheller, Riverside Community Health Foundation
Tel: (951) 788-3471