Lynchburg’s Community Access Network Expands Local Healthcare

January 30, 2017

A major change to healthcare has started in Downtown Lynchburg. The Community Access Network (CAN) is an integrated medical and behavioral health provider, primarily serving uninsured and underinsured children and adults. Primarily serving the downtown and mid-town areas of Lynchburg, CAN focuses on low-income patients with complex medical, behavioral health, and social needs.

In CAN’s service area, 18.5% of residents are uninsured. Currently, uninsured and underinsured patients seek treatment through the Lynchburg General Hospital emergency room. Currently, the Lynchburg General Hospital emergency room sees approximately 90,000 visits a year. Often, when a patient doesn’t have access to affordable healthcare, they delay seeking treatment until after the condition has reached a critical stage. This is when most patients go to the ER. CAN aims to redirect non-emergency patients from the ER to their facility.

The permanent location of CAN’s building, the 5th Street corridor, allows close access to the majority of uninsured individuals. Additionally, the location is on the GLTC bus route to provide easy access. With earlier access to care, treatable conditions can often be caught before they become life-threatening. CAN hopes to depressurize the ER from a patient flow perspective to ensure that legitimate emergencies are seen as quickly as possible.

Healthcare & Counseling Services

CAN makes it possible for all individuals to get primary care, regardless of their ability to pay. Medications will also be made available at low cost to the patient. Primary care services come at no charge for uninsured patients with incomes below 100% of poverty, and for $5 for those with incomes between 101% and 200% of poverty. For low-income patients with insurance, CAN charges the lower of two costs, either the co-pay or $5 for primary care.

Access to medical care is only part of the solution to negative clinical outcomes for residents of CAN’s service area. Only 20% of the modifiable variation in health outcomes is due to clinical care. 80% stems from social and economic determinants, health behaviors, and the physical environment.

CAN combats these factors by assigning Navigators to patients. CAN assigns a social worker or RN to be a Navigator and check in patients, ensure they are getting to their appointments, have transportation to get to those appointments, and take their medications. Additionally, Navigators help sort through other life issues such as safe housing, food, and access to clothing.

Additionally, counseling and mental health services will be offered to patients. Currently, patients are often faced with waiting times of over 90 days for post-hospital discharge follow-up with a psychiatrist. CAN hopes to correct this wait and help patients who need services be seen faster. Currently only psychiatric counseling is offered, but once the permanent office is open chemical dependency counseling will be added.

These Navigator roles are just one step that CAN is taking to improve the population’s health in a comprehensive manner. While historically low-income patients rely on either late-stage or non-emergency ER visits for treatment, the Navigators can appropriately direct their care to the correct healthcare professional. With many of these patients accessing the ER up to 50 times in a single year, this impacts the volume of visits and lowers wait time. Currently, Centra has approximately 40 Navigators in their system and already experienced positive results from their efforts.

Community Education

CAN will be providing a wide range of educational programming and support groups for patients and families once they move to the 5th Street Community Health Center. Their goal is to have a workshop or support group available at all times. These offerings will be provided in collaboration with their many partner organizations. Educational programs may include:

  • Chronic Disease Self-Management
  • Back injury prevention program
  • Blood pressure control/reduction education program
  • Medication education
  • First aid training
  • Mental Health first aid training
  • General health counseling
  • Diabetes education
  • Breast health education
  • Health insurance education and enrollment
  • Nutrition assessment and counseling
  • Peer counseling programs
  • Safety courses
  • Running/walking programs
  • Screening programs (cholesterol, stress, blood pressure, back fitness, posture, etc.)
  • Smoking cessation group
  • Alcohol counseling group
  • Stress management group
  • Weight loss group
  • Budgeting workshops
  • Job search workshops
  • Low-impact exercise programs
  • Urban gardening

Currently the Community Access Network is located in temporary offices on Thomson Drive and inside Park View Community Mission while the 5th Street office is under construction. Opening Day for the permanent location is scheduled for January 2018. This location will offer everything mentioned above, and will be open after traditional hours to allow more people to take advantage of the services.

The opening of the Community Access Network and the availability of affordable healthcare to more residents is a giant step in an increased quality of life in the City of Lynchburg. The Office of Economic Development and the Economic Development Authority support innovative development projects in Lynchburg, from historic rehabilitations in our thriving downtown to quality of life improvements throughout the Hill City.

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