Marin Community Clinics (MCC) announced that, in response to an increase in patient volume, it has expanded access to its services.
In 2014, MCC served close to 35,000 individuals (medical and dental patients), a 10% percent increase from 2013. The number served accounts for 13.5% of Marin’s population.
“We expect that 2015 may bring an even higher percentage increase,” reports Linda Tavaszi, MCC’s CEO. “We are continually refining our operations to ensure that we can accommodate as many patients as possible. We want to make sure they get timely appointments and that they don’t have long waiting times when they come to our clinics. We are doing everything we can to make it easy for them to navigate the health care provider network and to make sure they continue to receive the highest possible quality care.”
Volume increase primarily due to Medi-Cal enrollment.
Tavaszi explained that, to date, the primary reason for the increase in patient visits is that more patients are enrolled in Medi-Cal. MCC’s patient population has always been primarily Medi-Cal; it accounted for about 72% of MCC patient visits until 2014, when Medi-Cal expanded its eligibility criteria. Since then, it has jumped to 78%.
Although many of the new Medi-Cal enrollees were already MCC patients, people with insurance tend to make more use of the health care system, resulting in increased volume. Covered California enrollees account for a small portion (estimated 1 – 2%) of MCC’s patient population.
Due to the processing time required for Medi-Cal enrollment, MCC believes that it has not yet seen the full effect of the Affordable Care Act’s expanded Medi-Cal program.
Clinics hours extended
In response to the increase in patients, both MCC’s Novato and San Rafael Medical Clinics now offer evening hours several days a week. In January, MCC expanded its San Rafael Dental Clinic hours to include Saturdays and Sundays as well as two weekday evenings until 9:30 pm. The Novato Dental Clinic is now open on Saturdays as well as weekdays.
“Despite the large number of dental patients that we already serve, there is still an unmet need for dental services for low-income community members,” reported Connie Kadera, DDS, MCC’s Chief Dental Officer. “The demand for adult dental services exceeded our capacity with the current hours of operation, so we decided to offer extended hours.”
“Expanding our medical and dental clinic hours of operation is a great benefit to our patients,” explained Tavaszi. “The majority of our patients are working people, so having ‘after hours’ access really makes a difference for many families, especially for their urgent, non-emergency medical needs.”
Recruitment of additional clinicians
In order to accommodate patient volume increases and extended clinic hours. MCC has had an active clinician and staff recruitment effort underway.
In 2014, MCC hired the equivalent of close to 16 clinical positions. The roster of new clinicians includes board certified physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, licensed clinical social workers and a chiropractor. Some of these were to replace individuals that have left MCC due to normal turnover, such as maternity leaves and relocation.
With these additions, there are now a total of 40 medical clinicians and 18 dentists on staff. MCC has an overall staff of 240 individuals.
“With the addition of these highly skilled clinicians, we are not only able to continue to see more patients, but we are bringing an even higher quality of care to our patients,” reported Mitesh Popat, MD, MPH, MCC’s Chief Medical Officer.
Late last year, MCC went live with its new Spanish-language website. It complements the English version, which went through a major upgrade earlier in the year. Both versions are focused on helping patients navigate MCC services. The website provides guidance in enrolling, selecting a primary care physician, making appointments, and arranging for insurance coverage.
“Our Spanish-speaking patients, like all our other patients, want ready access to information about our Clinics, “explained Tavaszi. “Now, they have a user-friendly, culturally appropriate website that they can access from their mobile devices, which is the primary on-line vehicle that most of them use.”