From the Start: Project Access

Project Access-New Haven (PA-NH) plays an important role in our local healthcare system by mobilizing a vast network of donated healthcare services to ensure timely access to care.

Project Access - New Haven 2018 staff. Photo Jonathan Henninger

Ten years ago, a group of local doctors set out to address a problem impacting the Greater New Haven community — inadequate access to timely medical care for low-income patients with no (or inadequate) health insurance. They met with individuals and groups throughout New Haven to better understand barriers to care, researched best practices in other communities, and created a blueprint for an organization that would improve healthcare access for our most vulnerable residents. A grant from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven helped transform their vision into action.

Today, Project Access-New Haven (PA-NH) plays an important role in our local healthcare system by mobilizing a vast network of donated healthcare services to ensure timely access to care for underserved residents. PA-NH's team of bilingual (English/Spanish), dedicated, and compassionate Patient Navigators coordinate medical appointments, remove barriers to care, and provide support to patients and their families. Among its many services, PA-NH o?ers health insurance enrollment assistance through a partnership with Access Heath CT.

A West Haven resident with breast cancer described her experience: "I was devastated with my diagnosis. My family didn't have the means to cover my treatment and we did not have the slightest idea of where to go for help and support. Learning that I could receive help and ?nancial assistance from Project Access gave me hope to live. My family and I feel con?dent, protected, and supported in this di?cult stage of our lives."

Since 2010, PA-NH has navigated more than 2,500 individuals to more than 19,000 medical appointments with a 97% "show-rate." Over $45 million in donated medical care has been directed to those most in need. Because care is donated, $8 in healthcare services are delivered to underserved patients for every $1 spent. Since its initial award, CFGNH has invested over $500,000 to help sustain PA-NH's important work.

"Our vision is to be the community champion for access to care for those most in need," says Executive Director, Darcey Cobbs-Lomax. "We support each patient as an individual, and ensure that they get the care they need in a timely fashion."

The consequences of poor access to care are grave: preventable or treatable conditions can worsen and cause poorer health outcomes and even death, patients can withdraw from daily activities as they lose hope for the future, and families can experience ?nancial hardship. Poor access and delayed care also result in avoidable emergency department visits and hospitalizations, which tax our already overextended healthcare system. PA-NH is changing this trajectory for our neighbors and community.

A New Haven resident who received a prosthetic leg following an amputation said, "Thanks to your gracious donation, I have once again been given the opportunity to walk and have returned to being a mechanic. You have given me another chance in life. I will never forget what you have done for me and my family."

Did you know?

In focus groups, access to healthcare was deemed a major barrier to achieving good health, including unreliable transportation to specialized medical services. Source: Greater New Haven Community Index

This article is part of a series of stories celebrating The Community Foundation's 90th Anniversary.