The AltaMed Community Response was created in early March 2020 to minimize the amount of coronavirus cases within our communities and ensure the safety of our community members. With our efforts, over 40,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered to people in our communities. You can continue to support our efforts now and your community.
Today, AltaMed will spend more than $10 million on eight Outdoor Evaluation and Testing Centers throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. Yet NO GOVERNMENT PROGRAM is financially supporting our work to test the community for COVID-19 and protect patients who need care from exposure to COVID-19 in our waiting rooms.
These centers are funded by community support.
We have redeployed most of our dental staff to these Outdoor Evaluation and Testing Centers, but our reimbursement for medical care has not increased.
It’s true that AltaMed is a large organization with a large budget, and we serve more than 300,000 patients each year. However, we are still rooted in the belief of our founders: your zip code should not be the primary driver of your health outcomes.
If you agree, and if you look at the massive financial and human capital investments that our community requires to reduce deaths from COVID-19, then you quickly realize that every single dollar is critical and needs to be invested wisely.
Together, thousands of $25 or $50 or $100 donations add up to thousands of community members receiving COVID-19 testing, as well as the technology needed to quickly deploy telehealth to care for our vulnerable seniors remotely and provide meals.
We are currently retraining and redeploying our staff to meet the current crisis. Since the middle of March, we have closed our dental services (except for emergency dental care), and redeployed and retrained our dental staff to operate our Outdoor Evaluation and Testing Centers. Still, however, our reimbursement rate has remained the same; thus, we are paying more than 10 times more to provide the COVID-19 testing and ongoing health care that vulnerable and uninsured community members need.
AltaMed is a leader in prudently stretching philanthropic dollars and leveraging grant funding. We have even earned a Platinum rating on Guidestar.
Because of its scope, the community transformation that AltaMed leads – to keep the most vulnerable members of our communities safe – can only be accomplished by a fiscally secure organization with the ability to scale programs.
AltaMed receives a federal grant and is regulated by the federal government under the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). This grant confers our status as a Federally Qualified Health Center. However, government grants represent less than 2% of AltaMed’s operating budget. Like many other healthcare nonprofits, AltaMed has received only modest government funding so we can continue to take care of our most vulnerable populations, who should not come to the clinic during this pandemic.
AltaMed is currently utilizing funds that we have received to offset costs of our remote monitoring, telemedicine, and outdoor assessment programs. Each week it costs $125,000 to operate the outdoor assessment centers alone. In order to redeploy and retrain staff as well as provide technical equipment for telemedicine, AltaMed could lose $125 million this year. To understand more about this, the OC Register published an article that you can read here.
AltaMed does have approximately six or seven months of expenses in reserves. Over the last several years, our Board of Directors has prudently put together a “rainy day fund” for crises such as this one.
Yet, like almost every single nonprofit and business in the world (except maybe toilet paper manufacturers), AltaMed will spend those reserves just to keep our doors open during this difficult year.
We are allocating our reserve dollars to funding our Outdoor Evaluation and Testing Centers, taking care of seniors and high-risk patients and funding massive infrastructure investments in telemedicine and remote monitoring. The upfront costs to these programs are enormous and were unbudgeted.
Consider: how does a health care organization treat a patient with severe dementia, who, on average, is on 11 different medications and who previously came in-person to the AltaMed PACE center for eight hours a day? How does a health care organization work with that patient when they become homebound? AltaMed has 3,000 patients like this, each requiring a unique solution.
Thanks to the foresight of our board, AltaMed can pilot innovative and expensive health care solutions in the COVID-19 era. But we cannot financially sustain these programs through 2020 – much less into 2021 – on our reserves alone.
Funding from our donors is spent directly on our patients.
As a health care organization, AltaMed has long invested in two expenses that drive health outcomes: culturally competent and qualified staff, and health care resources (i.e. tests)/capital investments. Over the years, AltaMed has attracted top talent whose ideas and strategies have produced best in class health outcomes. AltaMed has accomplished this by delivering high-quality health care to low-income and uninsured patients.
Because of that investment, our talented staff and executives have rapidly and successfully transformed our business model from in-person visits to a telehealth platform supported by new, capital and human resource-intensive Outdoor Evaluation and Testing Centers. We did this within one week of California’s shelter-in-place transition.
Pre-pandemic plans for the gradual introduction of telehealth was estimated to take three to six months to roll out, during which bulk discounts could be negotiated and payments spread out. The agility of our leadership team and staff allowed us to re-imagine and implement a radical new business model much more quickly.
Our executives support our patients through AltaMed Gives, our employee giving program. They donate their own funds to give back to our patients who need help, including COVID relief funds. AltaMed employees are invested in the success of our communities.
Finally, the community supports AltaMed with significant donations. AltaMed believes it is our responsibility to get the best outcomes possible with the resources that are entrusted to us. To get the best outcomes, and to make good on the commitments we’ve made to our donors and patients, we need to attract the best talent available.
Right now, approximately 60% of the people receiving COVID-19 tests at AltaMed are uninsured, and most of these are not established AltaMed patients. We have always been committed to serving the most vulnerable in our community. This change represents a three-fold increase in the number of uninsured patients we have served for the last several years.
AltaMed is committed to providing medical care to everyone in our community – whether they are already an AltaMed patient or not.