NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — In this pandemic, it has never been more important for low-income neighborhoods to have access to good health care.
At the same time, Fair Haven Community Health Care (FHCHC) is earning national recognition for the work it is doing.
It is one of nearly 1,400 federally-qualified health centers. To get their funding, those centers are all required to send in a copious amount of information every year.
“The government crunches those numbers, and then in the summer, they come out and say these are the health centers that, out of the 1,400 nationwide, have done the best,” explained FHCHC CEO Dr. Suzanne Lagarde.
This summer, the center was recognized as being in the top 10 percentile for being a quality leader, and the top two percent in handling of behavioral health by the Health Resources & Services Administration.
The organization began in 1971, seeing just a few hundred patients. Now, it treats more than 18,000 mostly low-income minorities.
By treating the whole family, from childhood immunizations to geriatric care, they become almost a part of the families they serve.
“I think that trust is what’s driving this,” said FHCHC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Benjamin Oldfield. “People keep coming back, and they want to engage in their care as an individual, as a family member and that’s part of how we achieve good quality care here.”
The pandemic has forced some changes. They offer COVID-19 testing five days a week. Oldfield said they have also been taking that testing on the road.
“Going into homeless shelters, going into nursing homes, showing up at CTown, the grocery store down the street,” Oldfield said.
The pandemic also means more people want to use telehealth. Lagarde said they are working with the FCC on remote monitoring for things like blood pressure and glucose levels.
“Thermometers, in this day of COVID…We’ve all heard a lot about oxygen saturation in the day of COVID. We have pulse oximeters,” said Lagarde. “All of that is going to be going into our patients’ homes, and we’re going to be able to monitor them remotely.”
They also go beyond simple medicine, holding food drives to bring groceries to patients who test positive for the virus and also to families struggling to buy food because of the pandemic economic crisis.
“We have one of the highest rates of food insecurity in all the state here in the Fair Haven neighborhood, and we know that obviously impacts health in many negative ways,” Oldfield said.
The organization has been expanding over its almost 50 years. It is currently renovating its main building on Grand Avenue and is about to open its 15th location in the greater New Haven area.