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County looks to expand health services for uninsured patients

A new proposal being review by the St. Louis County Council would provide relief to both uninsured and underinsured residents who deal with chronic pain. These new services would be offered through the Department of Public Health at a variety of clinic locations around the county.

“This is an additional service to provide well-rounded care,” County Executive Dr. Sam Page said recently.

Logan University, in Chesterfield, was the only entity to respond to the county’s recent request for proposals [RFP]. The RFP submitted by Logan details a variety of proposed health services including chiropractic care, acupuncture, and occupational and physical therapy. The idea would be to supplement services already provided by the county to low-income residents with an emphasis on addressing chronic pain without additional medications.

Patrick Battaglia, DC, DACBR, is both a faculty member at Logan University as well as its director of Health Policy and Interdisciplinary Care. He points out that the RFP is designed to provide services to a traditionally underserved and vulnerable segment of the population.

“Chronic pain is magnified by a number of social influences that these patients are most victim to,” Battaglia said. “The options for non-drug pain management [for uninsured patients] have historically been very limited.”

Patients who are uninsured or underinsured are often without reliable transportation or the financial means to travel all around the greater St. Louis area to see multiple health care providers. The work that Logan has done in the past has been aimed to address that and this new initiative should do so as well, he said.

The fact that Logan University was the only respondent to the county’s RFP could be because of its unique experience. Logan currently provides services in collaboration with three community health centers throughout the greater St. Louis area. Battaglia believes the success that Logan has experienced treating patients at those sites has well positioned its providers to meet the needs of more county residents.

“[It’s] comprehensive care for patients who don’t have the luxury of seeing one specialist one day and another specialist another day … the health center is designed to be a one-stop shop,” Battaglia said. He also noted that there would not be any overlap between services offered through the new initiative and what the county is already providing.

While Logan University has a national reputation as a school for chiropractic medicine, the RFP calls for allied health service beyond Logan’s traditional scope of practice.

“It’s ultimately about the best caring for the patient,” Battaglia said. “We can do a lot, but we can’t do everything. We feel if we collaborate with other occupations, like physical and occupational therapy, we can really help the patient and provide transdisciplinary training for our students.

“We brought a good history of community health integration [to our proposal],” Battaglia said. “We felt good about what [we] can offer.”

A Logan University provider cares for a patient at a community health center. [Source: Logan University]

The County Council likely will consider the contract for services in the coming weeks. The proposal calls for a budget not to exceed $400,000 for the first two years and a cap of $200,000 for the third. The funding has been accounted for in the Department of Public Health’s 2020 budget.

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