GCCN conference to highlight BHA, Affordable Care Act
by Marie Nesmith
Mar 21, 2013 | 1004 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With Georgia Charitable Care Network’s ninth annual conference setting up shop in Cartersville May 2 and 3, representatives from more than 75 clinics across the state will be able to tour Bartow Health Access. For BHA Executive Director Roberta Green, the conference’s change in venue from Atlanta to Cartersville will ideally introduce attendees to the nonprofit’s work and inspire similar organizations.

“Normally everybody gets the opportunity to always see what they’re doing in downtown Atlanta but [bringing] it [to Cartersville] gives the other clinics an opportunity to see what we’re doing here in Bartow County, which is really neat, and it’s most like what they are able to do in their own communities,” Green said. “We’ll be able to showcase what we’re doing.

“We’re not sure that it will all be complete but the new part of the clinic will be complete, and the neat thing about that is it gives the opportunity for other clinics to see what the possibilities are and to be able to dream for their own communities. We’re just an average size, maybe a little bigger, clinic. But it gives the opportunity for clinics that are coming from south Georgia or north Georgia or east or west the opportunity to see what a real community-oriented clinic is like.”

BHA recently transitioned from a referral center to a primary health care home. Located at 31 Pointe North Drive in Cartersville, its Louis B. Tonsmeire Clinic features a full-time medical director/family practice physician and part-time nurse practitioner.

Currently seeing patients by appointment on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the clinic will be open from Monday to Friday when construction is complete on the unfinished portion of the building in about five weeks. At that time, the facility will contain 10 additional exam rooms, a medical dispensary, a nursing station, laboratory, a community health education space and behavioral health rooms.

Since 2008, the nonprofit has assisted more than 10,000 uninsured residents with health care referrals. To qualify for the clinic’s services, individuals must reside in Bartow and be at least 250 percent below the Federal Poverty Level.

In May, the two-day event will call the Clarence Brown Conference Center, 5450 State Route 20, home. Along with the reception at BHA, May 2’s activities will include a keynote address by Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens, an awards luncheon and workshops.

“This is our ninth conference and every conference we’ve had has been in Atlanta, downtown Atlanta,” GCCN Executive Director Donna E. Looper said. “We just decided it was time to get out [to other areas in] the state and to see different regions, areas and other clinics. ... The majority of our clinics are probably in the northern part of the state — that line if you go from Augusta to Atlanta to Columbus, most of our clinics are above that line. So it’s just a beautiful place to come and ... Bartow Health Access [is renovating its] building. So we’re going to be able to tour that right after it’s newly renovated. So we’re just excited to be there.

“[Bartow Health Access] is a wonderful organization. They’re extremely lucky to have Roberta Green to guide them through this real transitional period of their existence. I knew Roberta from her days when she worked at one of the larger clinics in the Atlanta area. So I think it’s going to be a fabulous facility, a wonderful boon for particularly the uninsured citizens of Bartow County. So I just [applaud] the community for coming together and making it possible.”

Referencing the conference’s title, “A Time of Transition,” the final day of the gathering will focus entirely on the Affordable Care Act and its impact on charitable care.

“It’s real important because the charitable clinics have long been known for providing the safety net, if you will, for people who do not have insurance,” Green said. “We’ve been providing their health care for a long, long time. And as we begin to implement parts of the Affordable Care Act, to be honest with you, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s going to happen.

“We all have heard that all of these things were going to happen when it was passed a couple of years ago, but now some of the funding is not coming through like they said it was going to because of the economic problems that we have. So what we’re trying to do as kind of the community safety-net network, we’re trying to prepare ourself how to best provide services for our community so that people don’t go without health care.”

Along with providing needed care, Green said it is vital that charitable clinics be knowledgeable and serve as a resource regarding the Affordable Care Act.

“The big thing is that it’s really important for charitable clinics to be aware of what’s going on, what’s being funded, what’s not being funded and that sort of thing, so that they can articulate to funders, donors, grant makers and things like that what’s actually happening and where the need is,” Green said. “The big thing is is that we see out there a lot of the funders, a lot of the general public as a whole just believe that the Affordable Care Act has done everything for them and it hasn’t.

“So the charitable clinics serve as a resource — one, how to navigate the Affordable Care Act for those who are going to receive services [and] two, how to provide services for those who fall through the gaps, which there’s still something like some 19 million that are going to fall through the gap, and in fact, they think the number is actually going to increase because of the impact on the small businesses. So it’s just important for us to really be aware and knowledgeable because we have to take that knowledge back to our communities.”

While the conference is geared toward GCCN members, Green said anyone with an interest in charitable clinics and the Affordable Care Act’s impact on the community is welcome to attend. Admission is $179 for non-GCCN members. If the network’s members register by Friday, the fee is $149.

For more information, search “Georgia Charitable Care Network” on www.cvent.com.