Gildardo Tejeda is a soft-spoken 42-year-old Johnson County resident who is married and the proud father of two children. Despite Tejeda’s steady job, its low pay makes health insurance unaffordable for his family. Debilitating symptoms—in addition to the fear of stomach cancer, a disease that took his father’s life—brought Tejeda to the Health Partnership Clinic more than a year ago. Today, on a beautiful summer day in one of the region’s wealthiest counties, Tejeda is seeing Thomas E. Barnett, Jr., MD, of Quivira Internal Medicine, part of Midwest Physicians, through a referral from Health Partnership Clinic to schedule a colonoscopy and other tests.
Tejeda is part of a growing segment of people in Johnson County who can’t afford health insurance. Since 2007, Health Partnership Clinic—a non-profit clinic established in 1992 and the only provider of free medical and dental care and the largest safety net clinic in Johnson County—has provided more than 38,000 visits to people like Tejeda. Since 2008 HPC’s patient roster has increased by 26 percent—with visits increasing from 8,600 to 14,240.
Dr. Barnett is part of a dynamic 80-plus volunteer team that serves as a referral source for the Health Partnership Clinic through the Wy-Jo Care Referral Network. Dr. Barnett and many of his fellow physicians at Overland Park Regional Medical Center—part of HCA Midwest Health System, Kansas City’s largest healthcare network—donate their services and expertise to the patients of Health Partnership Clinic.
Recently the physicians of Overland Park Regional Medical Center donated $25,000 to Health Partnership Clinic for its annual gala, “Party for Partnership: Twist and Shout,” which will be held on August 13 at the Sheraton Overland Park Hotel. The event raises money to help ensure services such as preventive, primary and acute medical care and chronic disease management will continue for patients like Tejeda.
Kirk A. Duncan, MD, president of the medical staff of Overland Park Regional Medical Center, has supported Health Partnership for many years. He says the $25,000 from the OPRMC medical staff is a gesture of “peace, love and medical care” for HPC’s ongoing efforts. The donation comes from a fund initiated and managed by the Overland Park Regional Medical Center staff and reflects the dedication and commitment the physicians have to Health Partnership Clinic’s mission of promoting the health of low-income, working uninsured and other vulnerable children and adults in the community.
“The Health Partnership Clinic achieves their mission through a team-based approach of comprehensive medical services,” says Dr. Duncan. “As physicians, we consider it part of our responsibility to help those people in the community who can’t afford health insurance or are underserved. We are very pleased to be able to support Health Partnership Clinic in this way and we encourage others to join in this effort.”
Amanda Lowe, president and chief executive officer of Health Partnership Clinic, says community partnerships, such as the one with the medical staff of Overland Park Regional Medical Center, are integral to the non-profit’s success. “We are so grateful for these partnerships, because they help ensure that patients such as Gildardo have their healthcare needs met,” she says. “The benefits of receiving services in a cost-effective setting such as Health Partnership Clinic go well beyond one’s health. Patients are able to remain productive workers and community members, and support their families.”
An earnest Tejeda tells Dr. Barnett during his visit that the services he receives are vital to his family’s well-being. “I can’t afford to miss work, though I experience a lot of pain on a daily basis, because I have to provide for my family,” he says. “I am worried about my health with these current symptoms, and so is my family, because my father died from stomach cancer.”
Dr. Barnett takes the time to interview Tejeda and listen to his medical history and concerns. Tejeda appreciates the physician’s demeanor. “He calms me about my fears,” says Tejeda. “He has compassion.”
Lowe stresses that clinic services performed at HPC by physicians like Dr. Duncan and Dr. Barnett not only help improve the health of the community, they help to reduce healthcare costs. “Support from the medical community such as the service provided by Dr. Barnett to Gildardo and the financial support from the medical staff at Overland Park Regional Medical Center to HPC are invaluable to the health and productivity of our community,” says Lowe.
Tejeda shakes Dr. Barnett’s hand and leaves the physician with a heart-felt message as he exits the exam room. “Thank you for helping me and for the service you continue to provide,” he says. “Medical care is so expensive and I have no other resource for care for my family.”