The Institute and U.S. Rep. José E. Serrano host ‘Transforming Primary Care for the 21st Century’

_dsc1713Photo: From left, Congressman Serrano and Dr. Neil Calman

New York, NY (September 20, 2016) – On Tuesday, September 13th, members of Congress, public health experts, and leadership from the award-winning health center network the Institute for Family Health explored the future of primary care and identified the gaps in the current health care system that must be addressed by the next Congress and Administration during a Capitol Hill briefing: Transforming Primary Care for the 21st Century. Congressional staff, representatives of the administration, as well as various associations concerned with care for the underserved, attended the briefing.

Tuesday’s event began with a welcome and thanks from Institute President & CEO, Neil Calman, MD, followed by remarks from Congressman Serrano, Fifteenth Congressional District of New York and co-sponsor of the event. Dr. Calman highlighted Congressman Serrano’s longstanding commitment to the Institute, “He has been a prominent ally of our work for over a decade. When the Institute decided to be the among the first health centers in the country to use electronic health records in 2002, Congressmen Serrano was instrumental in helping us secure funding to pay for implementation.”

Congressman Serrano remarked on the Institute’s impact on health and well being in medically underserved communities, “The Institute has been very innovative in moving forward important health initiatives, particularly in places that need it most, and has filled a critical void by opening and operating health care centers that provide high quality care to all individuals. I am proud and grateful to have four Institute health care centers in my district.”

Congressman Joe Crowley, of the 14th Congressional District, remarked, “Thank you for all the work you do to provide primary and preventive care, which is so needed in my district and other urban and rural areas. Because of places like the Institute, diseases like asthma and diabetes can be caught early and managed appropriately.”

Dr. Ted Ganiats, a Senior Staff Fellow at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, presented an update from the Agency. He noted the Agency understands the importance of funding vital primary care research especially at federally qualified health centers. Dr. Ganiats, as the Director of the National Center for Excellence for Primary Care Research, has been working to ensure that fundamental information is able to reach primary care communities, both research opportunities as well as tools for primary care physicians to help advance practice and improve care.

The Institute for Family Health’s speakers outlined a vision for the future of primary care and addressed core issues facing our health care system: health care access and health inequity, the integration of mental health and primary care, substance abuse, population health improvement, and training the next generation of health care professionals. Dr. Calman noted, “As the US population ages, you see less diversity within the population because of the premature illness and death of people of color in our country. This is the issue that is central to our mission…we want every single person to have the same opportunity to live a long and healthy life.”

The Institute emphasized the importance of continued legislation and government funding that promotes health equity. Specifically, the Institute highlighted the need for funding for the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education program that enables the Institute to train 90 family medicine residents annually through three family medicine residency programs, as well as continued funding to support the Institute’s Bronx Health REACH program that promotes structural, policy and environmental changes to improve the quality of life of individuals in the Bronx.