Health Center in the ‘Valley’ Aims for the Stars

By Faith W. Smalls

Its soothing suburban setting is a fitting backdrop for the comforting care delivered by Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center (GHVFHC). At this Orange County health center, medical care is merely one factor driving the nature of their patient engagement. They recognize the human dignity and multidimensional aspect of each individual that walks through their doors. “Our vision is to be the primary care practice of choice in the Hudson Valley and provide the best possible outcomes for our patients and community,” said Linda Muller, CEO and President.

Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center provides care for approximately 21,000 patients annually. Focusing on care for the entire family, they treat infants, children, adults and seniors. Well-positioned to offer this end-to-end care, their flagship office on 147 Lake Street in Newburgh is a sprawling 60,000 square-foot multispecialty facility. This one-stop hub is complete with pediatrics, women’s health, internal medicine, behavioral health, dental and urgent care departments, as well as an onsite pharmacy and laboratory. “Everything is under one roof,” says Avi Silber, MD, Medical Director.

In addition to consolidating a range of primary and specialty services in one building, GHVFHC has facilitated access to health care by building satellite sites for residents’ convenience. They have four other locations. The two newest – Harper Health in Newburgh and Highland Falls right outside the gates of the United States Military Academy (West Point) - opened within the last year. The Harper Health facility provides care to homeless individuals or those endanger of becoming homeless. This vulnerable population typically receives episodic or emergency care. Harper Health provides the continuity of care - specifically primary and preventive services - to which homeless people have traditionally not had access. The Highland Falls site represents a critical resource to community members who have always encountered barriers to clinical services. Before the site opened, residents traveled up to 30 minutes to see a health care provider. Dr. Silber says this office is a smaller version of the 147 Lake Street location. Each exam room has state-of-the-art technology, and patient records are woven into the GHVFHC EMR system. While there is no lab or pharmacy on site, they do practice family medicine and are able to take care of everyone – from the very young to the elderly.

The health center has an exceptional reputation among industry accrediting and regulatory entities. GHVFHC is an NCQArecognized Patient-Centered Medical Home. It is also accredited by the Joint Commission and recognized by CMS for meeting Meaningful Use – Stage 2 criteria, for proficient use of electronic medical records in tracking and improving patient care.

Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center has come a long way since they first opened their doors in 1967. At that time, they provided basic medical care to primarily Honduran and Mexican migrant workers and their families. Over the years, the scope of their services has broadened significantly. From informal patient feedback, as well as community needs assessments, they identify opportunities for service and program expansions. Many of the concerns expressed by patients are not necessarily health matters, but they are social issues that greatly impact heath status and care delivery (e.g., nutrition/meals, housing and living accommodations, transportation needs, work, etc.).

Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center offers a variety of educational and outreach initiatives that support overall wellness in the community. A few such programs include the following:

Reach Out and Read (ROAR) program – Providers give children ages 6 months to 5 years a book (in English or Spanish) after each visit. There is also a children’s reading room at the main site.

Mobile health unit – Providers conveniently administer dental, blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screenings throughout the community.

Health education – More than 60 free classes serving nearly 3,000 community members were held this year; a few topics included smoking cessation, complementary medicine (e.g., aromatherapy) and Zumba classes.

National Night Out – In a unified call for police partnerships and heightened community awareness, GHVFHC joined residents as they descended on their local streets in a symbolic stance against crime.

Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center is tightly interwoven into the fabric of Orange County. They stand as a trusted partner to residents, willing to extend themselves well beyond the parameters of medical care. Dr. Silber recalls the gratitude of one family when staff organized a fundraiser for their baby’s funeral. “We’re so much more than a medical provider,” he says. The center’s genuine concern for the community coupled with their strong foundation allows them to assist people in such a special way.

It is the strength of their programs, services and relationship with the community that enables the health center to thrive in these mercurial times. While health care reform leaves many wondering about what lies ahead, GHVFHC has a positive outlook, given the quality and comprehensiveness of their services. Ms. Muller says that in the last several years, they have enhanced their primary care program in a way that addresses care delivery issues and increases their service capacity for the future. “We are well positioned to absorb new patients,” she says. And, if anything, they consider health care reform a boon to their operations, further channeling them along a path of expansion and improved customer service. Funding through the Affordable Care Act financed their dental suite and, in part, paid for the construction of the Harper Health and Highland Falls sites.

Health care reform is a pivotal focus today, but it is uncertain what issues will take center stage within the industry in years – or even decades – to come. GHVFHC knows that strong leadership is key to planning for the future and remaining adaptable in a rapidly changing environment. As they look down the road to securing future successes, they have established the Emerging Leaders Program. “We’ll be in good hands when I leave,” says Ms. Muller. The program is designed to prepare the next generation of clinical and administrative leaders to advance GHVFHC’s mission. Dr. Silber is the program’s most recent success story.

Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center is excited about their current progress and looks forward to new opportunities to improve the quality of people’s lives. “We’re focused on the community and committed to their care,” said Ms. Muller. Noting that Affinity and Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center share a commitment to addressing the needs of underserved populations, she happily promised, “We will continue to do everything necessary to assure Affinity Members receive the care they need.”