He says rural hospitals and other providers should view community health centers not as competitors, but as partners in delivering care. Frequently, hospitals can provide transportation to care, or make home healthcare visits to better monitor patients, or translator services.
"Health centers don't exist to compete with hospitals. They exist to cooperate and partner with hospitals," he says.
For example, health center clinicians are required to follow their patients into the hospital as part of the continuum of care. "That means for a rural hospital [that] additional clinical staff will be adjunct, but with admitting privileges," he says.
While 40% of health center patients are uninsured, the remaining 60% of patients do have some form of coverage, "so for the bulk of patients who rural health centers serve there is a payer source for those patients if they need to be admitted or they need an MRI," he says.
"Secondly, because the health centers are there and generate business for hospitals, they have literally helped to keep hospitals open and they've done the same for nursing homes," he says. "They are often adjunct staff for rural nursing homes who will visit patients in the hospital to provide care and they help to keep things functioning."