AHRC HEALTH CARE, INC.
ACCESS Community Health Center's Capital Improvement Project proposed to convert 4,000 sq ft of administrative space into two handicap accessible dental rooms, accompanying administrative and clinical space to support the dental program, an expanded Rehabilitation suite and areas for improved patient flow. To accommodate more patients, it was also proposed to redesign the Substance Abuse treatment program space. Although it was originally proposed to finish construction November of 2009, construction began January 18, 2010. ACCESS initiated the project to provide dental services to patients after completing a needs analysis that highlighted the significant oral health disparities for the service area. Lower Manhattan service area residents are significantly more likely to have incomes below 200% of Federal Poverty Levels (FPL) (54.2% compared to 35.7% for Manhattan and 39.8% for New York City). For older adults, New York State Medicare does not pay for preventive dental services making access to dental services difficult. There are 1,931 public housing apartments at the Governor Alfred E. Smith Houses with an estimated 5,793 residents, 30% of which are elderly. This unusually high percentage of elderly residents is significantly greater than any other public housing complex in New York City earning Smith Houses a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) designation. ACCESS has partnered with additional NORCs in the area including nearby Mitchell Lama housing (Southbridge Towers) and other public housing facilities in Lower Manhattan to disseminate heath information. ACCESS' Capital Improvement Program will close the financial barrier gap to service by providing integrated primary, specialty and oral health care, as well as by offering discounted, sliding fee scale payments to the population. By expanding the availability of and access to quality, comprehensive, and continuous oral health care services, ACCESS will improve overall health outcomes for service area residents and workers. ACCESS' Capital Improvement Program will help close the gap between primary dental and medical services and effectively and efficiently expand access to this critical service, thereby improving quality of care to all Health Center patients on the life continuum. The greatest need that spurred the initiation of this project is the lack of dental capacity in the service area for people with public insurance and for those in need of sliding scale fee discounts. Now that construction is complete, ACCESS is the only provider in Lower Manhattan with dental capacity accepting Medicaid and sliding fee scale for individuals at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. The dental services for this proposed project are new services at the Health Center and it is expected to increase patient census by at least 20% within the first 3 years of operation.