“We believe comprehensive healthcare is a right of all patients,” says James Powell, MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician and the Chief Executive Officer at Long Island Select Healthcare (LISH).
Born from three different agencies, the Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI), Family Residences and Essential Enterprises (FREE), and United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Suffolk, Inc, LISH was formed in 2016 to provide medical services to community members in Suffolk County. The organization serves over 8,500 patients, many of whom have intellectual or physical disabilities, complex mental health disorders, community-based population, and those with substance use disorders.
Dedicated to improving access to quality and comprehensive healthcare, respecting the unique abilities and needs of patients throughout their lifespan, LISH knows that health is impacted by more than healthcare. A patient may not be able to handle their own medical bills, for instance. Or they may have an outdated air conditioner that is exacerbating their asthma. These social factors play an important role in their health.
Tailoring Care to the Patient
Knowing every patient is facing a different barrier to quality care, LISH conducts in-depth screenings upon intake and connects patients to wellness advocates who can help them navigate their care, their medical bills, their appointments, etc.
If a patient doesn’t have the tools they need to maintain their health, LISH will provide them. Not only does the organization have an 80-page booklet, full of community organizations, services, and resources, but LISH has given out tablets with cellular technology to enable patients to better communicate with their providers. LISH also travels to patients’ homes to deliver supplies or provide services, knowing some patients cannot attend in-person visits, require supervision, and/or are under full care.
Dr. Powell has developed a care concept he calls the “triangle of care,” which recognizes the critical relationship between the patient, provider, and caregiver. A caregiver could be a family member, church group, shelter, or any person or community who supports the patient through their health and wellness journey. Because each patient has a different need, Dr. Powell has built a brick and mortar structure with a hybrid approach to care.
LISH’s goal, he says, is to provide care at the right time, in the right place, and with the right service – and this requires the team to be nimble and creative. Care should be provided in a place that patients feel comfortable with, which could be at the office or home. The key, Dr. Powell says, is to understand the best interests of the patient, even if it’s inconvenient for the health center, and put that priority first.
The Importance of Comprehensive Wellness
While LISH is known for providing traditional healthcare like primary care, chronic care management, dentistry, physical therapy, and dermatology, among other health and behavioral health services, it also addresses social determinants of health like food insecurity and unemployment.
“We believe in the concept of comprehensive wellness, which focuses on medical, behavioral, social, and financial wellness,” Dr. Powell says.
LISH is actively creating wellness initiatives and programs to support patients across all areas of their lives. The organization has provided adult patients with intellectual disabilities with on-site job training and job placement, either within LISH or in the community. The health center has also bought shares on a local farm and is building a community garden. With three large vegetable boxes, LISH is able to give more patients access to nutritious, seasonal foods.
Dr. Powell wants community members to think of the health center as an integrated partner in the wellness of the community. The organization is involved with all parts of the community and is made accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live, who they are, and what barriers they face.
Combatting Barriers to Care Delivery
LISH, like every other health center, is facing ongoing barriers like an increased demand in behavioral health services, compliance constraints, rising costs, and high provider turnover. These barriers can lengthen the intake process and limit the time allocated to patient care. But they have not stopped LISH from meeting the needs of community members. Even if the health center is at its capacity, patients are taken in and treated.
“The challenge is balancing growth without burdening the existing workforce,” says Dr. Powell.
Hiring is difficult for the organization, as LISH can’t compete with for-profit companies. The organization doesn’t have deep pockets, but it can provide the best job environment possible – and LISH has done just that. Two years in a row, LISH earned the title “best place to work,” by Newsday and Long Island Business News.
The organization knows how to do more with less and while the workplace has changed tremendously amidst the pandemic, making it difficult for staff members to develop more meaningful in-person connections, LISH has worked hard to support not only patients, but staff and providers. While LISH is a relatively small and newly formed organization, it offers vital services to its community members.
Partnering to Grow Community Offerings
In 2021 alone, LISH enrolled 3,726 new patients and had 75,215 visits on-site and virtually. While this is a great success for the organization, Dr. Powell admits that he doesn’t track daily outcomes. He focuses, rather, on the organization’s long-term goals. In addition to building structure growth, he says one of his main goals at the moment is to ensure that his employees are not only psychologically safe, but also enjoying their work. It’s important to not only retain employees, but make sure they’re cared for.
He’s also focused on building more partnerships with community organizations. Already, LISH has partnered with a pharmacy, an Indian reservation, and other organizations to develop more comprehensive services, programs, and initiatives to community members.
“I’m very proud of the fact that other community members have partnered with us. This shows me that our idea of success and our vision is in line with our partners,” says Dr. Powell, who is focused on securing more formal partnerships in the near future.
Here at Yuvo, we’re thrilled to partner with Dr. Powell and the LISH team, in an effort to grow the organization’s capabilities to better support health and wellness initiatives for the Suffolk County communities. Learn more about Yuvo Health and our partnerships here.
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