During a visit across the 7th District this week, U.S. Rep Billy Long made a special stop in Branson to tour the facilities at Faith Community Health on Aug. 13 and learn more about how they serve the area.
Faith Community Health opened its doors to patients in March of 2010. Since then, its mission has been to provide access to affordable healthcare and promoting wellness of spirit, mind and body for the underserved who live or work in the community.
Faith Community Health Pharmacist Dr. Heather Lyons-Burney said one of the main focuses of the clinic is to provide primary care to the working uninsured in Stone and Taney counties.
“What we found with that working uninsured population … people get sick and they let it go and then they end up really, really ill,” said Lyons-Burney. “Then they end up not able to take care of their families, to keep their job and it just kind of snowballs from there. So what we try to do is provide that safety net for people.”
In 2018, Faith Community Health introduced FaithCare. Through FaithCare, employers can pay $29 per month toward FaithCare Medical, which gives their employees access to healthcare services for just $10 per visit.
This year, CoxHealth Virtual Visits Telehealth services were added to the FaithCare program. Through this service, patients are given access to a CoxHealth provider via smartphone or computer for urgent needs, seven days a week, according to Executive Director Kenn Tilus.
“Cox Health has the virtual visits program that we utilize, so they’ve been a good partner in sharing that with us. They help in a number of ways in the work that we do in the community and they’re an invaluable partner. We couldn’t do what we do without them. We also partner with the Dispensary of Hope,” said Tilus.
“The generics (prescriptions) are available to use through the Dispensary of Hope, Direct Relief and other organizations like them that basically collects surplus prescription items from manufactures, processes them in their warehouse and distributes them out to clinics like ours.”
In his address, Long shared how great it was to learn of an organization in the Branson area that provides health care to the working uninsured.
“God bless you, is all I can say. People that have jobs where they’re starting out, they’re like ‘I can’t afford health care.’ The employer can’t afford health care, they’re not big enough to be mandated to supply health care. It’s great to find out that they have an organization like this where their employer can get involved and can encourage them to come here for preventative medicine,” said Long. “That’s what so important about organizations like this. The people that normally didn’t have a doctor, didn’t have health care, now do.”
When it comes to his work in the field of health care in Washington, Long said one of the big things they’re currently working on is drug pricing.
“We’re trying to get the prices on the drugs down, so that people can afford that,” said Long. “Also on the billing processes, these surprise billings that different hospital networks have. Someone might go in and not know that their provider in that hospital, even though everything else in that hospital is covered, one of their providers might be out of network and not be covered and they’ll get a big bill later on.
“So we’re working on that right now, in particular, and the drug pricing situation the president is very concerned about.”
Tilus added that Faith Community Health also works with drug manufacturers to get prescriptions through patient assistance programs.
“A lot of people don’t even know that those are available to them. So for brand-name drugs, people of lower income level have eligibility to get those, but it’s a lot of paper work,” Tilus said. “When patients register with Faith Community Health, they’ve already gone through the financial registration process, so we know that they’re qualified, and we handle the paperwork for them and process what they need.”
In 2015 and 2016 Faith Community Health hosted more than 4,000 patient visits, and in 2016 alone, Faith Community Health provided more than 13,000 prescriptions, according to its website.
“Employees are hard to find in this part of the world with our tourism industry, and everything and to keep them on the job is vitally important. So if you got an employee … you can get them in for 10 bucks to go see the doctor.’ That’s what the employers want to do to keep their people healthy,” Long said. “So keeping people healthy at the first sign of anything and then getting them on their prescription drugs that they need and they’re able to afford their drugs here at $10 also. So it’s amazing, it’s absolutely amazing.”
On top of medical services and their own in-house prescription dispensary, Faith Community Health can provide patients with vision, dental and mental health services.
“Keeping people healthy and happy and productive,” said Lyons-Burney. “We are southwest Missouri, and we are grassroots. This is our community and we are taking care of our neighbors here. So that’s critically important to us.”