Faced with declining income and an increase in community demand, Napa’s OLE Health has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, said a news release from the nonprofit.
Despite this, OLE Health’s leadership is already beginning to look beyond the pandemic and toward embracing the organization’s expanded role to provide health care for a growing number of clients, said organization.
“OLE Health is typically the primary care option for the most vulnerable members of the community,” including those who already faced financial and social challenges prior to COVID-19, said the release.
Those numbers are expected to swell as the economic fallout of the pandemic becomes clear.
A significant percentage of those who access OLE Health’s services also work in the Valley’s hospitality industry, which has been dramatically affected by the pandemic.
With job losses mounting, OLE Health is beginning to experience an influx of new clients, many who have not traditionally been without private health insurance, said OLE Health.
“The percentage of our patients who are uninsured has definitely increased as a result of the job losses in the community,” said Alicia Hardy, OLE Health CEO.
“We’ve seen our uninsured patients grow from 17% to 23% in just the first three weeks of this crisis, and we know that number will likely increase.”
OLE Health receives federal reimbursements for each client visit, a major source of income for the organization. During the shelter-at-home order, OLE Health has seen a nearly 50% drop in direct visits, it said.
OLE Health expects a revenue drop of at least $1.5 million for this fiscal year.
With clinic visits down, and as a commitment to supporting quality care, OLE Health has continued to check on clients remotely, averaging more than 650 points of contact daily through phone calls and emails, said the center.
“We’ve really ramped up our telehealth services and Medi-Cal now allows for reimbursements previously not approved for telehealth,” Hardy said. “In spite of that, we are still experiencing significant revenue losses each week due to lower visits overall.”
Declining revenue is not the entire story.
While funding declines, the community need grows. As a result of the economic downturn, the number of people accessing OLE Health has also increased.
Food insecurity and mental health are other critical needs OLE Health is addressing on a daily basis, it said. OLE Health has received many new requests for non-traditional services, including food donations.
The organization responded by partnering with Community Action of Napa Valley (CANV) to provide food for those in need.
“With lost jobs, especially in the hard-hit hospitality industry, it became necessary to act fast to help people feed their families, which in turn helps alleviate stress,” said the nonprofit.
In addition, OLE Health has also taken the lead on coronavirus outreach and testing for vulnerable citizens, especially those experiencing homelessness.
More than 65% of those tested were from underserved populations.
“I’m incredibly proud of how our OLE Health team quickly strategized and implemented the only walk-up testing site in Napa County,” said Teresa Shinder, DO, OLE Health chief medical officer.
“This has been a vital resource for our community members without online access or without access to transportation.”
An anniversary celebration on holdNearly one year ago, OLE Health opened its new Napa Valley Vintners South Napa Campus. OLE Health is now seeing more patients than ever.
The South Napa Campus alone conducting more than 35,000 visits in its first year, surpassing all estimates. The increase in client needs and services will continue to grow as an aftermath of the pandemic, said the organization.
“We are very happy with all we’ve accomplished during our first year at the new South Napa Campus,” said Chanda Yates, OLE Health COO.
“We hope to be able to celebrate these accomplishments at a future date. For now, we are completely focused on serving our patients at this critical time.”
Facing the challengeOLE Health is fully aware of the challenges ahead, the organization said.
OLE Health leadership and staff are already planning for the increase in community need. The board of directors is embarking on a campaign to raise community awareness of the increased types and amounts of services that the organization will provide, and the funds necessary to meet this demand.
In addition to the need to maintain and likely increase staff and staff hours, OLE Health is also adding a mobile unit to support its community outreach programs.
“We are leveraging our existing resources to address the increased need in services, knowing the demand will continue to increase beyond our current resources,” explained Brenda Pedroza, executive director, OLE Health Foundation.
The path forwardEven with the challenges of the last few months, the mood is anything but downbeat, said the organization.
“Our place in the community healthcare landscape was changing even before the pandemic,” Hardy said. But if there’s one thing this pandemic has shown, it’s that our team is up to the challenge.”
You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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