Feb. 1 and 12
By Deb Silverthorn
Jewish Family Service (JFS) of Greater Dallas is readying to add primary and preventative medical care services to its more than 150 wraparound services. Town Hall meetings regarding JFS’ Community Health Center (CHC) will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Aaron Family JCC and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12, at Temple Shalom.
The CHC, once approved as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), will become a federally designated organization providing outpatient, comprehensive primary and preventive care and mental health/substance abuse services to persons of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay or health insurance status. In the future, JFS plans to add oral care, women-specific care and more.
“JFS has been providing all the other components of the social determinants of health for the past 72 years. With the Community Health Center, we will close the loop and provide whole-person care to the clients we already serve who don’t have a medical home,” said Cathy Barker, JFS president and CEO.
Despite there already being seven FQHC sites in the Dallas area, JFS reports that only 5% of the population in Dallas that should be served by a community health center are actually seen in one that exists. Whether because of economics, distance or many other issues, most go without preventative or treatable care, only worsening their conditions over time. JFS’ Community Health Center will help fill the gap in providing medical services for existing and future clients.
“We hope the community will come out to the Town Hall meetings so we can get the message out, let people know what we are doing. The more places we have to serve the community and, through the Community Health Center we’ll have the opportunity to help so many. It’s a great thing that’s happening,” said Dr. Michael Landgarten, a nephrologist, member of JFS’ board of directors and chair of JFS’ physicians’ board.
A member of JFS’ board, Weezie Margolis, is bringing her MBA in hospital management and experience to the forefront as chair of the FQHC Task Force. Also dedicated to the project are JFS’ CFO Steven Brown and the agency’s COO Deizel Sarte, who both came to JFS after working for FQHCs. Moving forward, a chief medical officer will be hired, as will a complete medical staff.
“I love JFS’ mission and the work and 1000% I am so happy about the Community Health Center becoming a reality. We are going to be able to provide for our current clients of all ages, and many who have never crossed our path, with care of diabetes, high blood pressure, preventative care for so many conditions. If seen regularly, so many of these patients will avoid emergent situations or those just too late to manage,” Margolis said.
JFS’ Community Center, expected to open in November of this year, will be the first in the country under the umbrella of agencies supported by the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. Seen as a model, it is expected to be only the first of many. The Dallas team is setting the bar, stepping onto the runway and making it happen.
“The model of integrating the provision of all health services is one that the nation is moving forward with, and it is beautiful to see JFS Dallas taking the lead. We are very excited. JFS Dallas’ staff is already fully engaged with our network, actively participating,” said Reuben Rotman, founding president and CEO of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, of which JFS Dallas is a member.
In early May, the NJHSA will gather in Dallas for its annual convention with more than 400 professionals, board members and human health support staffers from the U.S., Canada and Israel coming together. On the calendar of events are site visits of the JFS Counseling Program at Jubilee Park Community Center, the PLAN (People Living Active Now) Clubhouse and JFS’ Food Pantry.
“A presentation of this journey by Dallas, to those attending the conference, will certainly be a highlight. Being able to cross-care our clients will be so meaningful and we know every client will be better served. When Dallas succeeds, we all will,” said Rotman.
It is required that JFS operate a primary care clinic, meeting all government standards, for a year before applying to become an FQHC. Once the application is submitted, it can take up to nine months to receive the approval.
How will this be paid for?
The primary care model for JFS’ Community Health Center is focused on building a strong pediatric component to create the desired payor mix under current Texas Medicaid limitations; children and adolescents are covered under the program, with a current panel of limited services available for adults. A second clinic is planned to open as early as 2025.
JFS has already raised $2.5 million needed for startup costs of the first two years with estimates that the medical clinic and behavioral health services will be financially self-sustaining in year three of operations. A capital campaign is underway to raise funds. The locations of the clinics, expected to be near the current site — whether they are to be built from the ground or built out of existing facilities — are still under consideration.
“Adding medical to our already amazing suite of services is an incredible opportunity that comes after years of dreams, much study, planning and expectation. I am so proud of the many who are bringing this to fruition,” said Eric Goldberg, JFS board chair.
To register for either town hall event, visit tinyurl.com/JFS-CHC-Town-Hall-RSVP. For further information, contact Leah Guskin at 972-206-1690.