FirstMed Health and Wellness is the kind of community clinic U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford wants to see more of, and it’s the kind getting a boost from the federal government.
FirstMed, which serves primarily low-income patients at its three Las Vegas Valley locations, is getting a $1.8 million slice of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery pie known as the American Rescue Plan.
Today, Horsford, D-Nev., toured FirstMed’s North Las Vegas site, which offers primary care and behavioral health services, to hear how the clinic would use its allotment for pop-up weekly vaccination clinics. FirstMed CEO Angela Quinn said she would also bolster the clinic’s mental health program, which has grown by 15% over the last year.
Quinn said decisions on how to spend the money will be largely left up to recipient health centers. But funds will go toward pandemic-related services for vulnerable populations.
Health centers can use the funds to cover COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination efforts, continue to deliver primary health care services to those at higher risk for COVID-19, and expand operational capacity and physical infrastructure.
Quinn said she wants to ease any patient concerns about the safety of the shots and meet patients where they are, reaching out to homebound patients or those living in shelters, for instance.
“Every American should have the security of knowing they have access to quality, affordable health care, especially as we face a pandemic that has exposed the disparities facing rural, minority, and lower-income communities,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement announcing funding for health centers in Horsford’s 4th Congressional District.
About 85% of FirstMed’s patients are on Medicaid, and the clinic doesn’t turn anyone away. The clinic Horsford visited, at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Alexander Road, is in one of the local ZIP codes hardest hit by the coronavirus.
There are more than 6,200 cases in a community with a population of about 44,000, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.
Census data also show the pocket of North Las Vegas is 68% Black and Hispanic, with a per-capita income about 75% that of the greater Las Vegas area.
Horsford said the pandemic has exposed what a lot of people already knew: many families’ health foundations were already precarious.
With its multicultural staff, though, FirstMed is a model for reflecting the community with cultural competency and language skills, he said.
FirstMed is one of two health centers in Horsford’s district to get COVID-19 response funding. The other, Hope Christian Health Center, also in North Las Vegas, will receive about $900,000.