Northside City and County Health Clinics Work Together

A new collaboration between the city of Houston and the Harris County hospital district means enhanced medical services for near northside residents along with streamlined operations at two health clinics there. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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The two clinics, the city-operated La Nueva Casa De Amigos Health Center on Main street and the county-operated Casa De Amigos nearby are now working together to provide health services, eliminating duplicated care while increasing the number of doctors available to patients. Stephen Williams is the director of the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

"Basically what you have are a city clinic who provides preventive health services and a county clinic who provides primary care services. We are integrating those services that have traditionally overlapped, and that is well-child services as well as maternity services, and so therefore, we will be able to increase our primary-care capacity by integrating those services."

The larger city clinic, which now specializes in treating pregnant women and babies, had extra space that has now been filled by county services while the county clinic is now able to see more adult patients. Johnny Stein is the associate administrator at the Harris County Hospital District.

"We're seeing more patients at Casa De Amigos because we moved those patients into La Nueva Casa De Amigos. We expanded or increased the total number of doctors in the La Nueva building and they're now seeing all of the doctor visits for babies and for pregnant moms."

The collaboration is an attempt to fix a larger problem; too many residents who use city and county health facilities as their primary care providers and too few resources to keep up with demand. Houston Mayor Bill White says cooperation between the city and county could help alleviate some of that pressure.

"We know that the Harris County Hospital District has more demand for its services and resources, so things that we can do to help them accomplish their mission in the locations where the customer wants it, it's more the better. I know what we still have a way to go in breaking down on the inter-operability of the computer records, the patient records and all that stuff, but with the determination that we have, it's going to be a new day in the services that we're offering."

Both city and county officials say they're using the partnership as a model for future health clinics.

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