Nonprofit Spotlight: HOPES celebrating 20 years providing medical hope to Reno’s needy | nnbw.com

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Nonprofit Spotlight: HOPES celebrating 20 years providing medical hope to Reno’s needy

In 2017, Northern Nevada HOPES is marking 20 years of service to the community and celebrating the one-year anniversary of the opening of the Stacie Mathewson Community Health Center, a 38,000-square-foot medical facility, this March.

HOPES started out as an HIV-only services organization in 1997 helping people with HIV get medical care, counseling along with food and housing assistance. But since then, HOPES has grown tremendously and changed to meet the needs of many more in our community. In 2013, HOPES became a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and started offering primary healthcare services to anyone who face barriers to accessing high-quality medical care.

Since getting its FQHC designation, HOPES has expanded services to provide primary health care to adult and pediatric patients along with wrap-around services such as behavioral health counseling, an on-site pharmacy, wellness and nutrition services, radiology, transportation services, chronic disease management, case management, substance use counseling as well as education and outreach to people experiencing homelessness and much more.

With the opening of HOPES' new Community Health Center (CHC), HOPES served about 7,700 patients in 2016, a 62 percent increase in just 2016 alone. The most significant new program the new facility has allowed HOPES to add is primary healthcare for children ages 0-18.

The crux of HOPES' model for health management is the one-stop-shop, wrap-around care that it provides to patients. This model of care focuses on prevention, chronic disease management and close coordination between the HOPES care teams to address the whole health of a person on multiple fronts.

Finding the solution to a health problem can oftentimes be more complex than a prescription. Mental health problems often fuel the need for opioid users to medicate themselves with prescription pills or heroin. A diabetic patient would have a difficult time relieving the symptoms of their chronic illness without changes to their lifestyle and habits. That is why HOPES staff, including behavioral health counselors, primary care physicians and case managers, work together to solve the physical, mental and social causes of disease.

One of the biggest problems that Nevada faces is a shortage of medical providers. In HOPES' three-zip-code service area (designated as 89502, 89503 and 89512, although HOPES services people from all over Nevada), there is one medical provider for every 3,952 patients. To put that ratio into perspective, one medical provider for every 407 patients is the U.S. national average according to the World Health Organization. This acute provider shortage can create significant barriers for people searching for a medical home.

But HOPES represents more than just a nonprofit organization, or a community health center. It is an investment into the health and wellbeing of all Nevadans. FQHC's are a concept that have been around since the late '60s. Despite today's heated political climate around healthcare, FQHC's still enjoy bipartisan support as they create better health outcomes for the areas they serve and save tax payers money.

Many of the patients HOPES serves are covered by Medicaid or pay cash for services based on a sliding fee scale. Medicaid beneficiaries who access CHC services are 11 percent less likely to be hospitalized and 19 percent less likely to use the emergency room for preventative conditions. According to the National Association of Community Health Centers, CHCs have saved Medicaid alone $6 billion annually and have produced an overall savings of $24 billion to the healthcare system. Not only do community health centers improve health outcomes for the individual, they also provide a cost benefit to the community as a whole by reducing reliance on public benefits, fueling economies by providing jobs, and creating a "ripple effect" of economic activity.

20 years ago, HOPES started out as a small organization using its wrap-around model of care to serve a small segment of people who faced barriers to accessing services. Today, HOPES still offers the same model of care, but we have expanded it to help more people who have trouble accessing quality healthcare. As we grow into the future, we will continue to focus on working together with patients and other organizations to build a healthier community for all Nevadans, no matter where they are in life.