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Health Center Gets COVID Funding

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Molokai Community Health Center (MCHC) received $550,535 in emergency federal funding to assist in COVID-19 response.
The funding was part of $10,037,995 given to 14 health centers statewide by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) which funds health centers across the country. The coronavirus money was part of President Trump’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.

“This federal assistance to our community health centers can be used by the centers for staffing, personal protective equipment, screening, testing, and prevention or other means to fight the pandemic,” said Congressman Ed Case.
MCHC CEO Helen Kekalia Wescoatt said Molokai’s health center has “redesigned our services overnight in response to COVID-19.”

“MCHC’s COVID-19 response team has worked quickly and diligently to shift our resources to meet both the safety and care needs of our patients,” said Wescoatt. “We have instituted new infectious disease protocols and temporarily shifted resources away from our routine primary care to urgent care, a on-site, isolated walk-in screening and testing clinic, and expanded our telehealth services from behavioral health into our medical clinic.”

But Wescoatt said the health center, like others nationwide, has seen a drastic drop in visits because of stay at home orders, and the relief amount of $550,535 “just covers our average $495,000 patient revenue earned for a quarter.”

“We have had the same repercussions as all [Federally Qualified Health Centers] as patient visits decline up to 90 percent while simultaneously pivoting our service delivery to more urgent care needs, screening and testing, and decreasing staffing to manage both government orders of shelter-in-place and cost containment,” she said.

MCHC has seen an average of 70 percent reduced visits over the last month, according to Wescoatt. A lot of those have been replaced by virtual visits between patients and providers.

“We are thankful for the relief funding that HRSA has provided to preserve the essential staffing and functions of providing preventive and primary care to this community through COVID-19 and after; these dollars allow us to cover the cost of staffing, utilities, supplies, and new equipment related to increasing telehealth and work from home protocols for our staff, that otherwise would be paid for by revenue generated through third party payers for visits conducted,” said Wescoatt.

She said the dental clinic remains open at four days a week for emergency visits.

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