Our HistoryIn 1992, Prowers County was served by two primary care physicians with 2,000 more people than the 12,000 we currently have. Needless to say, they were overwhelmed and access was very limited. A community organization called Health Resources, Inc., whose mission was to facilitate the provision of health care services in the community, decided to bring a community health center to Prowers County. As a result of these community volunteers, High Plains opened in August, 1995, for primary medical care. Our first expansion was the addition of a dental program in December, 1995, hiring a dentist, dental hygienist and assistant to initiate that function. We added a local physician and support staff to the practice in 1996, an additional physician assistant in 1997, by which time we had grossly outgrown our 3,600 square foot office. We were able to purchase a retiring physician's office in 1998 and convert it to a three operatory dental office.
Business was booming in the medical office by 1998, and we began making plans to build a larger medical and administrative facility. This came to fruition in 2001 when we built and moved into a state-of-the-art 12,500 square foot medical and administration building. This addition allowed us to add x-ray and lab services on-site. We purchased additional space for the dental office in 2003, adding a second dentist and dental hygienist to staff the now eight dental operatories. In 2004, we did some remodeling in the medical office to create an in-house pharmacy and in 2006 added digital x-ray capability to the dental office. In 2007, we upgraded our practice management system and implemented electronic dental and medical records. In 2009, we remodeled our dental office to increase capacity to nine operatories. In 2011, we opened our new Adult Health Center to better serve our aging population and treat those with chronic conditions. In 2013, we hired an OB-GYN, added a Pediatrics Clinic, purchased and re-opened the Wiley Medical Clinic, started our own in-house behavioral health program and added a team of 6 Health Coverage Guides to assist our community with enrollment into Affordable Care Act products. We have a $7 million dollar annual budget and have grown from the original six staff in 1995, to a staff of ninety-two including nine medical providers, two behavioral health providers, and four dental providers. In 2015, we purchased and re-opened the Holly Clinic.
High Plains is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization governed by a majority consumer Board of Directors and managed by an Executive Director, Medical Director, Operations Officer and Human Resources Director. This health center is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254b, and a deemed Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n). The whole purpose of High Plains is to provide quality health care that is made accessible by utilizing a sliding fee scale for all services, available because of predominately same day appointments, and reachable due to free transportation to the clinics. High Plains operates out of eight sites including the main medical site, the adult health site, the dental site across the street, a full-time clinic at Lamar Community College, a full-time pediatrics site, the Wiley Clinic, and the Holly Clinic for a total of 7 sites.
High Plains Community Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). Patients are served from all over Southeastern Colorado including Prowers, Baca, Bent and Kiowa Counties. In calendar year 2013, High Plains provided primary care services to 8,680 unduplicated patients during 34,949 visits. This included 26,806 visits to 7,189 medical patients and 7,295 visits to 2,978 dental patients. We also have full-time mental health clinicians stationed at our main facility and our adult center for the purpose of integrating physical health and behavioral health. Comprehensive primary care services provided on-site include acute medical and dental care, well-child exams, OB care, delivery, pharmacy, health education, health coaching, case management, immunizations, x-rays, laboratory, preventive and restorative dental care, chronic illness care, well woman exams, and individual, group and family psychotherapy. We are staffed with five physicians, three nurse practitioners, one physician assistant, two behavioral health clinicians, two dentists and two dental hygienists. We provide care to all ages in all three arenas of medical, oral, and mental health. All services are on an outpatient basis. High Plains was recognized as a Level III Patient Centered Medical Home in February of 2011.
Service to Under-served Populations - Community Health Centers are only funded in Medically Under-served Areas (MUA's) and Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA's). Prowers County is designated as both with 48.7% of the population living in families with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. High Plains specifically targets under-served populations for access to care but serves all community members. The methodology utilized to ensure access includes a sliding fee scale based on income for all medical, dental and mental health services, Spanish competency including several providers fluent in Spanish, free transportation, eligibility workers to qualify patients for the sliding fee scale and assist with Medicaid and CHP+ applications, many free preventive services such as colonoscopies, paps and mammograms, evening clinics for migrant farm workers, evening and all day Saturday clinics, and affordable medications.