American Indian Health & Services (“AIHS”) is a Santa Barbara community health clinic that provides medical, dental, pediatric and behavioral health services to all members of our community. Founded in 1994 as a Santa Barbara based, non-profit, our neighborhood clinic has served the South-Coast’s health needs for over twenty years. AIHS is governed by an independent board and its directors bring a range of knowledge and experience to our clinic in the fields of medicine, science, law, community health, Native culture and finance. Additionally, our healthcare center is a dually awarded Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (“FQHC”) pursuant to two acts of Congress.
First, AIHS is a designated FQHC through a federal contract with the Indian Health Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). Therefore, a portion of our programs are funded by IHS under Title V of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, PL 94-437 (the “IHCIA”). We are one of only thirty-four independent, non-profits nationwide designated as an Urban Indian Health Program. As such, our community health center plays a vital role in fulfilling the federal government’s obligations under the IHCIA by providing free or low-cost health care to American Indian/Alaska Natives (“AI/AN”) residing on the South-Coast. We provide these healthcare services to all Native Americans residents regardless of tribal affiliation or ability to pay. Our community clinic is not affiliated with, nor does we receive any funding from, a tribe or tribal enterprise such as a casino. Approximately ninety-five Nations, Rancherias, Tribes and/or Bands are represented within our Native patient population.
Second, AIHS is a designated FQHC under the Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) pursuant to Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 254b (“PHSA”). Health resources for low-income families in our community are scarce. Therefore, in addition to our AI/AN community, we provide low or no cost healthcare services to all non-Native, medically underserved populations in our HRSA service area. Our priority population under HRSA are those families living below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG), and/or patients who are uninsured or underinsured in our service area. The vast majority of the patients we serve are non-Native, Santa Barbara residents and of those, most live below 100% of the FPG.
Furthermore, our community clinic is helping to fill a healthcare provider shortage in Santa Barbara. Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are federal designations that indicate healthcare provider shortages in primary care, dental health or mental health. We are a designated HPSA facility because we (i) provide comprehensive primary care services to our underserved populations in the South-Coast, (ii) offer a sliding fee scale discount (based on income), (iii) maintain a quality assurance program and (iv) we are governed by an independent board of directors. We are also serving a designated HPSA since we are an Urban Indian Health Program providing healthcare to the AI/AN population in our community. This dual HPSA designation qualifies AIHS for special grants for helping low-income families access quality healthcare. Further, it qualifies us for medical scholarships, which we have applied, to successfully recruit and retain highly skilled providers and specialists from around the nation.
We are recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (“NCQA”) as a Level III Patient Centered Medical Home (“PCMH”). NCQA PCMH Recognition is the foremost industry standard used to transform primary care practices into medical homes. The patient-centered medical home is a way of organizing primary care that emphasizes care coordination and communication between the patient and provider and outside specialists. Our PCMH model cultivates more engaging patient relationships and captures savings through expanded access and delivery options that align patient preferences with payer and provider capabilities. As a Level III medical home, we are leading the way in providing higher quality care at lower costs, and improving overall experience of primary care.
Our community clinic plays an important role in the Santa Barbara healthcare delivery system by reducing burdens on our local emergency rooms. We provide the community same-day access to our primary care physicians, specialists and counselors and have after-hours telephone access to a provider 24 hours, 7 days a week. Approximately eighteen percent (18%) of our patient visits are same day appointments. We are proud of work we do in reducing non-critical visits to our local hospital emergency rooms by providing same-day access to quality care at AIHS.