In 1989 SETON assessed the need for primary care centers that target people who are underinsured. Three areas of need were located in East, South and North Central Austin. Since that time Seton McCarthy, Seton Kozmetskyand Seton Topfer Community Health Centers, which serve those underserved areas, have proved to be very effective in providing health care to people with limited access. All services are free or are offered on a sliding scale.
In addition to the centers that SETON operates, others in the community also help provide medical services to the uninsured.
The Clinic at Brackenridge
The Outpatient Specialty Clinic at Brackenridge Hospital quietly provides a service unique in Austin. Each day, between 75 and 100 adults -- mostly uninsured, underinsured, Medicare and Medicaid -- visit the clinic to get the treatment that they most likely couldn't obtain otherwise.
Without this clinic, there's no place for these people to go for the diagnosis and care of chronic conditions. The clinic offers them access to subspecialty care.
The clinic offers treatment in more than 20 services, with individual clinics in a variety of specialties from medicine to surgery to obstetrics/gynecology. Each service is offered at specific times each month; for example, the pulmonary clinic is scheduled on the first and third Friday of each month beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Generally, each clinic has one attending physician who is an Austin Medical Education Programs teaching physician. Medical residents do an assessment of each patient and present the case to the attending physician. Traditionally, these clinics have provided internal medicine residents an educational environment for primary care and subspecialty services.
Volunteer Healthcare Clinic
The Volunteer Healthcare Clinic, formerly Caritas Clinic, has been serving the Austin community for 39 years. The Clinic is a non-emergency primary care facility mainly utilized by the working poor and their children. As Austin's only free clinic, it operates three evening sessions weekly.
Last year, the Volunteer Healthcare Clinic served 5,181 patients. United Way/Capital Area, SETON, Diocese of Austin, Travis County Medical Alliance, patient donations and private donors provided operational funding for these patients.
SETON's Community Health Centers
The Seton Community Clinics were established to provide accessible, comprehensive health services to medically underserved families in Austin. The SETON Healthcare Network sponsors the clinics.
Primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants provide quality primary care to community residents who are eligible for services, regardless of their ability to pay. Improving patient health through a team approach to preventative care and health education is a goal of the clinics.
All medical and counseling services are available on a sliding scale based on family size and income. Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP are accepted, although only a small percentage of patients are eligible for these programs.
The programs of Seton McCarthy, Seton Topfer and Seton Kozmetsky serve primarily Hispanic populations, and they share a strong holistic model to address the wide-ranging needs of their communities.
Seton McCarthy, opened its doors in 1989, serves a large population of women and children needing primary care. It is in a relatively stable neighborhood where many people own their homes or live with relatives.
Seton Kozmetsky, opened in 1995, serves a more transient population. There are more people renting their homes, many residents are immigrants, and there are somewhat larger senior and homeless populations than in east Austin.
Seton Topfer, opened in 2000, targets the uninsured and underinsured population of North Austin. Eligibility is based on financial and geographic criteria. Examples of targeted population include: underinsured, Medicaid, Medicare patients without supplemental insurance, (i.e. retired couples with Medicare, adult students, working parents who don't have insurance for their spouse or children.)
All of the community health centers are staffed by physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners and offer a full-range of holistic primary-care medical treatment, pharmacy and laboratory services, educational programs and social and psychological services. Because they are part of SETON, the clinics also provide a link to specialized physicians, acute care facilities and other services that provide clients with complete access to a full array of health care services.
The centers address the high incidence of diabetes among their Hispanic patient populations. When Seton McCarthy first looked at the problems of its adult clients, 60 percent of them were identified as having diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure or obesity. Recognizing that eating properly is a key to controlling these conditions, the center has taken a leadership role in initiatives such as the Sustainable Food Center and Food Policy Council, which are aimed at improving community access to affordable, nutritious foods.
An important component of the holistic model by which the centers operate is that they offer multidisciplinary care provided collaboratively by physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and social workers. Working at the centers and at area schools, second-year master's level students from Austin-area colleges conduct child and family therapy sessions, lead support groups and provide crisis intervention. In addition, medical social workers identify and coordinate resources to meet families' needs beyond medical care.
All services are free or are offered on a sliding scale.
LifeWorks: Alliance of Youth and Family Services
LifeWorks: Alliance of Youth and Family Services was created in 1998 by the merger of four of Austin's most well-established mental health and social service organizations: Child and Family Service, Pathways Community Counseling, Teenage Parent Council, and Youth Options.
LifeWorks' goal is to help individuals, youth and families access the support and strength they need to meet the challenges of life by expanding services to more people in more places; breaking down the barriers people face in accessing services across agencies; and reducing paperwork and bureaucracy for clients and staff.
LifeWorks offers a wide variety of services for youth, adults and families, including individual and family counseling; consumer credit counseling; family violence intervention; GED and job preparation for youth; teen parenting support and prevention programs; and school-based services. Many of these services will be offered at the Seton Topfer Center, and LifeWorks staff can make easy referrals to others on an as-needed basis.
LifeWorks' programs serve some 10,000 clients directly (through counseling, case management) and another 25,000 indirectly (information and referral or one-time presentations).
LifeWorks staff and volunteers serve individuals, youth and families through convenient community service centers located in North, Central and South Austin as well as Hays and Williamson Counties. Specialty sites provide services such as shelter and housing for youth and consumer credit counseling.
Community Health Centers of Austin/Travis County
The Community Health Centers provide customer-oriented, quality-driven, and cost efficient medical and dental services for underserved individuals to meet their health needs.
Brackenridge Hospital operated the first primary healthcare clinic for the indigent. As the demand for increased access to healthcare services for the uninsured grew, three clinics were opened in the early 80s. Today, the Community Health Centers include five city clinics, five county clinics, and one separate dental clinic. The current service area includes Austin, Manor, Del Valle, Pflugerville, Jonestown, and Oak Hill.
People's Community Clinic
Founded in 1970, the People's Community Clinic is a non-profit, primary health care facility. Their facility strives to provide high quality medical, counseling and health education services at affordable costs to individuals and families in Central Texas. People's Community Clinic is dedicated to responding to the community's needs, especially the uninsured population. The Clinic promotes involvement in the community in the provision of health care and emphasizes health maintenance and disease prevention in all treatment programs.
El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission
El Buen Samaritano (EBS) is Austin's only non-profit provider of health care, leadership development, and self-sufficiency education for working-poor, Spanish-speaking families.
Their mission is to help families secure a productive and meaningful place in the community through programs for health care, basic education, advocacy, training in community responsibility, and emergency food and clothing assistance, all of which enable families to move beyond subsistence to self-sufficiency.
Indigent Care Collaboration
The ICC is an alliance of healthcare safety net proviers that work together to increase access improve quality and impact financing solutions to provide care to the region's medically indigent.