Responsive Grantmaking: Expanding Access to Primary Care

If you ask Mary Wetherall, RN, MSN, HN-BC, CEO of NEPA Community Health Care, what her organization’s most immediate need is, “space” might be on the top of her list. That’s because the number of patients seen at NEPA Community Health Care has been growing. The Andrew C. Mazza Memorial Health Center, located in Greenfield Township, PA, is only one year old and NEPA Community Health Care has begun its second phase build out, which includes three additional medical exam rooms, two behavioral health offices, a nurse’s station, triage room, and three dental exam spaces. Wetherall says that they hope that, when complete, their new space will become a “one-stop shop” for individuals in the community to receive health care.

One reason expanding this facility remains important is because it offers the nearby rural community access to – not only primary care – but also behavioral health services as well as dental and oral health care. Wetherall explained that the organization’s approach to “whole-person care,” as she likes to call it, is a health care model that will benefit individuals in the community.

“Because we are rural and remote and there is not much public transportation, our patients do not have access to care,” she said. “Our own data show that there is an overuse of emergency rooms as primary care providers.”

Wetherall says that the new renovations have also been critical to patient privacy.

“Our patients responded to that immediately,” she said. “Our patients felt that their information was more secure. It shows that the patient is primary in everything that we do, and that we truly care about them.”

Though the new expansion is not yet complete, Wetherall said that her organization has already learned some key takeaways throughout the renovation process.

“One thing we learned is the importance of planning and budgeting,” she said. “If something doesn’t work out, we ask ourselves: How can you repurpose space? How can you repurpose staff? How can you become more efficient?”

These are questions Wetherall and the rest of NEPA Community Health Care will continue to ask themselves as they continue their mission to bring healthcare services to Greenfield Township. Finally, because NEPA Community Health Care is a Federally Qualified Health Center, it has been given resources to serve each patient regardless of an individual’s insurance or lack of insurance – a point Wetherall emphasizes.

“It’s a medical home regardless of where you fall on the income scale,” she said.

With its new renovations underway, NEPA Community Health Care will have an improved ability to meet the needs of its patients in an even better way.