Striving to provide access to quality healthcare services throughout the state, Nevada Health Centers (NVHC) offers a comprehensive one-stop service for many low-income families, nearly half of which are under 100 percent of the federal poverty level. On pace to provide service for approximately 100,000 patient visits for the fiscal year, NVHC continues to grow throughout the state, adding new services and additional care.
“We’re here to provide people access to primary healthcare,” said Chief Executive Officer Steven Hansen. “There’s a misconception that we are a free clinic. We are not a free clinic. What we do provide is a sliding-fee schedule based on an individual’s ability to pay.”
A private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3)corporation, NVHC existed for nearly 20 years as a public entity known as the Central Nevada Rural Health Consortium before becoming one of the first federally-funded Community Health Centers (CHC) in 1977. In 1994, the organization changed its name to the Nevada Rural Health Centers, Inc. and became a private entity. To better represent its mission and goals, the organization became Nevada Health Centers, Inc. in 2001.
Funded through the Public Health Service Act of 1976, NVHC is a Federally Qualified Health Center program. This federal funding is provided for both the organization’s Community Health Center program and its Healthcare for the Homeless program in Las Vegas.
According to recent figures, federal resources fund about 35 percent of NVHC operations. The balance of operating expenses originates from patient charges (47 percent), local/county contributions (9 percent), and private contributions, donations and other sources (9 percent).
There are roughly 1,000 CHC programs nationwide, operating more than 3,500 clinics, said Hansen. Nevada Health Centers is one such CHC, operating 16 facilities throughout the state’s rural and urban communities. NVHC’s purchasing, centralized billing service and financial offices are located in Carson City, while its operational and call center facility is in Las Vegas.
NVHC consists of a governing board of 14 volunteer members, some of whom represent the communities or regions where clinics are located, and others serve at-large from around the state, bringing other professional skills to the board. Each clinic is medically staffed similar to a family practice model with a physician, physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner.
In November 2003, NVHC added ob/gyn services to its Las Vegas Valley facility to meet the demands left unfulfilled by relocating physicians. Hansen said the practice is now delivering about 40 to 60 babies per month. “We can now provide a discounted rate to help woman who need ob/gyn services,” Hansen said. “We’ve always provided pre-natal care, but now we can deliver babies. It was a huge need in Las Vegas.”
In addition, NVHC’s Mammovan facility continues to roll through Nevada offering breast examinations. Now four years old, the program sees about 300 patients per month, said Hansen, and spends roughly 80 percent of its time in Las Vegas and 20 percent traveling through the rest of Nevada.
According to Hansen, the NVHC philosophy is to open smaller, community-based clinics in the highest-need areas. Based on funding and finances, he hopes the NVHC can expand with projects in 2004 and 2005. “We are looking into expanding services into the Elko community and possibly a senior center with multiple medical programs in Las Vegas,” he said. “But, we can only expand based on our financial capabilities.”
NVHC has also submitted a grant to assume operation of school-based clinics in Clark County. If approved, NVHC could handle operations as early as July 2004.