CCHF | Solutions


Voice of Calvary Family Health Center

Voice of Calvary Ministries (VOCM) was incorporated in 1975 as a Christian community development organization to serve the poor and disenfranchised in Mississippi. In 1981, Voice of Calvary Family Health Center (VOCFI-IC) was established in Jackson to provide quality health care at an affordable price. In 2004, the Voice of Calvary Family Health Center (VOCFHC) began operating as a separate nonprofit organization with its own board and its own 501(c)3 tax-exempt designation. This change has been an integral part of our efforts for the health practice of VOCM to grow towards sustainability.

Christian Community Health Fellowship has been one of our most generous strategic partners. Through CCHF’s involvement with the Compassion Capital Fund, VOCFHC received support through both technical assistance (TA) and sub-awards (SA). In the beginning of 2004, we received a sub-award that allowed us to hire an administrative head of the clinic. In the spring of 2004, we received intensive TA through two consultants to assist in the development of a sustainability plan. After several months of discussion, three critical objectives were adopted in order for VOCFHC to become a financially viable health center over the long haul. Those critical objectives are as follows:

  • We need to increase our current patient base (volume) by improving our current operations to maximize the income potential from our patient base.
  • We must obtain our 330 Look-Alike status to be able to qualify for cost-based reimbursement for the Medicare and Medicaid patients we serve.
  • We must grow our health center to at least three full-time providers to be able to generate the level of stable income from services to become financially sustainable.
  • CCHF was able to provide an on-site consultant dedicated solely to preparing, submitting, and following through to approval the 330 Look-Alike application. CCHF was able to send a consultant, who spent two weeks per month with VOCFHC to work with our staff to put the processes in place that were needed to apply for this grant. We received an additional sub-award in 2005 for the purpose of hiring a clinical services manager. Both of the sub-awards we received were capacity-building grants for the purpose of pursuing our designation as a 330 Look-Alike health center.

    In 2006 we realized our goal when we were approved as a 330 Look-Alike health center, retroactive to November 2005. This milestone would never have been achieved without the help of CCHF.

    Last year, 2006, was a year of new challenges and expanding opportunities as a result of Hurricane Katrina. We were able to respond to needs in hurricane-damaged areas along the coast, as well as work with communities removed from the coast to which thousands of evacuees have fled. As part of our outreach effort, we were able to make a mobile medical clinic available to Coastal Family Health Center in Biloxi, Mississippi, shortly after the hurricane through funds received from the Rotary Club and World Vision. Through this partnership, we were able to serve nearly 3,000 victims of the hurricane.

    Even though we have had to respond to the crisis needs caused by the hurricane, we have stayed the course in our plans for the sustainability of VOCFHC as outlined by our planning committee and the assistance of CCHF. With the support of CCHF, among others, we have made significant progress on all three goals as presented. Specifically, we have:

  • Achieved our goal of attaining a designation as a 330 Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike. This is a major milestone on our way to sustainability.
  • Increased our patient base and volume in 2006. We saw a total of 4,459 patients through October of 2006 at our current site, which is an average of 22 patients per day, an increase over our 18 to 20 patients in 2005.
  • Begun operating the Convenient Care Clinic (CCC) in partnership with the Jackson Medical Mall, where we saw an additional 1,500 patients. We have added a full-time nurse practitioner who is serving patients at the CCC.
  • Served an additional 2,845 patients through our mobile medical clinic in partnership with Coastal Family Health Center in Biloxi.
  • Completed a detailed organizational assessment through the Jericho Road Foundation, covering board governance and development, future staffing needs, business operations, and information technology.
  • Recruited a clinic administrator on a volunteer basis to increase efficiency in operations as we expand our access to health care.
  • In addition to these accomplishments, we faced some challenges:

  • Reimbursement level set by Medicare is significantly less than anticipated. It has taken longer than expected to work out the details of our Medicare reimbursement, which has impacted our monthly income.
  • There is an increased demand for serving uninsured patients. The other two local FQHCs are not taking any new uninsured patients and are referring them to us. We are also getting referrals from other clinics.
  • Increased needs brought on by Hurricane Katrina.
  • Our goals for 2007 and beyond have been set to build on our two main emphases for 2006: (1) Increased access to care for the most vulnerable populations, which has been VOCFHC’s goal since its founding; and (2) Greater response to increased critical needs brought on by Hurricane Katrina. In particular, we have the following three goals:

  • To raise funds to provide direct services for uninsured patients.
    We are approaching our local hospitals for support for seeing uninsured patients, beginning with our long term partner, Saint Dominic Memorial Hospital. We estimate that it takes a minimum of $250 for a patient to be seen in a hospital emergency room for a non-emergency medical condition. Although uninsured patients are billed this amount, there is only 1% collection rate. VOCFHC can see that same patient for $61. This will shorten the patient’s wait time, provide a tremendous savings for the hospital and the patient, as well as enable VOCFHC to receive compensation for uninsured patients without ability to pay. At VOCFHC, our non-paying patients are approximately 10%.

  • To improve our 330 compliance for multiple site operations.
    In July 2006, a consultant from Jericho Road Foundation met with the board to perform an organizational assessment to develop a strategic plan for VOCFHC to operate multiple sites as a 330 Look-Alike. This was a valuable, significant, and much appreciated contribution to our ministry. In addition, another volunteer donated his services as clinic administrator to develop business and operational procedures for increasing access to care at multiple sites.

    The strategic plan will take up to three years to implement. It will involve board development and training, upgrading our paper-based medical records to electronic records, and acquiring and training additional staff. We believe the implementation of the plan will also result in our reimbursement rate being significantly increased.

    As a 330 Look-Alike health center, we are facing increased demands for record-keeping that comply with those standards. In addition, we are now operating two sites and plan to add at least three additional sites by the end of 2007. We are currently using paper records and patient charts. We have a need to go to an electronic patient management system and electronic health records. We have made arrangements with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to be hooked into their electronic records system. This will result in a significant savings compared to having to purchase our own software.

  • To establish medical outreach to students in Jackson Public Schools.
    It is estimated that Jackson Public Schools has had to absorb a minimum of 2,000 additional students as a result of Hurricane Katrina. VOCFHC is working with JPS to offer medical screenings in eight public schools in order to address the needs of these Katrina victims as well as the general school population.

    Voice of Calvary Family Health Center has been a strong presence in our community for 25 years. We have been able to provide consistent, quality health care for many who might not otherwise been able to receive it. Christian Community Health Fellowship has been one of our most faithful supporters.
  • by Phil Reed, CEO of Voice of Calvary Family Health Center, Jackson, MS