Filling The Primary Care Gap: Nurse Practitioners

Alison McGrory-Watson, a private cook who lives in Deep River, had serious medical problems, including Hepatitis C and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), when she was assigned Nichole Mitchell as her primary care provider at Community Health Center Inc. (CHC) in Middletown. McCrory-Watson was uninsured, and Mitchell went to great lengths to get financial assistance for two new drugs aimed at addressing her medical problems. As a result, McGrory-Watson is now Hep C-free, and she hopes a drug she’s taking for PTSD will quell the lingering effects of being gang-raped as a teenager and witnessing a brutal stabbing as an adult.

There’s something about Mitchell that might surprise you. She’s not a doctor; she’s a nurse. A nurse practitioner (NP), to be precise. But McGrory-Watson insists that the care Mitchell provides is every bit as good as she would get from a physician.

Community Health Centers Face Uncertain Financial Future

Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs) in Connecticut have expanded services, upped their staffing and renovated their facilities mostly due to increased revenue streams from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Connecticut and the 30 other states that opted for the ACA Medicaid expansion program have benefitted from billions of dollars in additional core grant funding, with Connecticut receiving $150.7 million from 2011 to 2016, according to a January report by the Congressional Research Service. Health centers in Connecticut used some of that funding to hire professionals to enroll thousands of residents in health insurance—residents who were previously uninsured and used the centers for their health care. Now the centers are serving about 70,000 more insured patients, mostly covered by Husky Health plans. The cost of treating uninsured patients has declined by about $10 million since 2012, according to Deb Polun, director of government affairs and media relations at the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut.