GOSHEN — The Maple City Health Care Center’s innovative approach to primary health care has led a national foundation to recognize the center as one of the best in the nation.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest exclusive public health foundation, recently tabbed Maple City Health as one of 30 exemplary practices throughout the nation that will help to build a model for the country through the foundation’s The Primary Care Team: Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP) project.
The LEAP project’s goal is to build a model to improve primary care across the country, said Dr. James Nelson Gingerich, director of Maple City Health Care.
The foundation began searching for primary care centers to help develop that model, which will help practices throughout the nation to operate “effectively, cost effectively and innovatively in ways that will strengthen our communities and improve the health in our communities,” Gingerich explained.
After conducting an interview and looking over the center’s paper work, the Johnson Foundation sent a representative to Goshen for about a week earlier this year to observe Maple City Health Care’s operations.
Sometime next spring, Gingerich said, the foundation will release a report of their findings that will be posted on their website. From there, he continued, representatives from each of the 30 practices will meet periodically over the next two or three years to discuss the most effective and affordable health care strategies for patients.
One of the things Gingerich believed caught the foundation representative’s attention while they were immersed in Maple City Health Care’s operations was their approach to staffing.
Gingerich said that many positions within the organization that require on-the-job training, like a receptionist, are often filled by patients. When looking to fill a hole, they ask the staff, “Who is there among our patients that sort of lives out our values and would be a good fit here?”
Hundreds of practices across the United States were nominated for the distinction and Dr. Gingerich said he has no idea how the foundation found their practice. He is proud of the recognition, though, no matter how the Johnson Foundation heard about them.
“It’s a kind of acknowledgement of excellence and recognition of our years of work here working at developing something locally that works.”
Gingerich said he isn’t sure what the model will look like exactly, as LEAP projects leaders finalize their studies and list of 30 practices but he has some idea of how the model may influence health care.
“One of the things we’re starting to see here, locally, is a shift in how people anticipate health care is going to paid for,” he said. “And it’s changing how people are thinking about care. There’s an increasing focus on prevention and health care promotion in the community and keeping people healthier and keeping them out of the hospital.”
“When this model comes out, we’ll see how compelling it is and how seriously people take it.” Gingerich added, however, that he believes the model will be taken seriously because of the size and influence of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Being recognized for excellence and invited to share in the creation of the model is a vote of confidence of sorts for the practice that is focused on helping create a healthy, functional community on several levels.
“We’re about more than medical care in a narrow sense,” Gingerich said. “We’re about how we foster a healthier community where people live together and value each other across socioeconomic and sociocultural barriers.”