Published October 18, 2011
Volume 19, Number 10

Axis Community Health Delivers Medical and Behavioral Care to Keep Tri-Valley Healthy

Photo courtesy Axis Commuity Health.

Espousing the belief that “health care is a right, not a privilege,” Axis Community Health has been serving Tri-Valley residents for almost 40 years. The nonprofit operates five facilities in Pleasanton and Livermore: two medical clinics, two behavioral health sites, and one dedicated to the federally funded women, infants, and children (WIC) nutrition program.

“Our objective is to be sure everyone in the community, regardless of income, has access to healthcare,” states Axis CEO Sue Compton. As to be expected in an era of escalating medical costs and a shrinking population of insureds, that is a lofty goal to meet.

Axis not only takes on that challenge but delivers impressive results. With nine board-certified physicians on staff, “the medical care here is excellent,” Compton says. “We spend a lot of time evaluating the quality of care and outcomes we deliver, and without fail we exceed all national standards.”

The nonprofit gets especially high marks for its care of patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes or asthma. An electronic management system, i2i Tracks, records the visits and activities of these patients. If lab results are less than desirable, a case manager follows up to address the problem, for example, scheduling a session with a nutritionist. Patients who neglect to fill prescriptions receive reminder calls. “This really makes a difference,” Compton points out. “When you have someone calling and telling you they noticed that you haven’t picked up your pills this week, you get on it. We have demonstrated that our patients are getting healthier.”

Another area of strength is the integration of medical and behavioral health (drug, alcohol, mental health counseling) services. Medical patients can also have anxiety or depression, but in the past the stigma attached to behavioral health and the frequent lack of insurance coverage often impeded treatment. “What’s exciting now is that our medical and counseling providers work together to formulate a treatment plan that represents the best combination of services for the individual patient. We are integrating all areas so our patients are really getting the full gamut of care. This is a new thing in the healthcare environment, and community health centers are at the forefront.”

Compton emphasizes that Axis services are available to everyone. It is not a free clinic, but funding from both public and private sources enables it to treat MediCal patients and those with limited or no insurance according to a sliding fee scale. “For routine things like a physical or an earache, we can provide care at a very affordable rate,” she points out.

As a nonprofit, Axis devotes all its resources to direct patient care, so from a marketing perspective it tends to be “a bit under the radar,” Compton notes. That is about to change. Demand for services rose 25 percent over the past 18 months, and impending healthcare legislation signals even higher patient loads. With the 12,000-square-foot Pleasanton clinic “bursting at the seams,” the organization is about to begin a capital campaign to fund a larger building to add capacity and bring medical care and mental health counseling under the same roof. “We hope in the next two years to have a brand-new clinical facility,” Compton says. “The need is here.”

For more information, visit www.axishealth.org.


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