On Wednesday, August 12, La Red Health Center opened their latest location at 1 Sussex Avenue in Milford, DE. Governor Jack Markell along with other state and local officials were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“Whenever I come to an event at La Red, it is exciting,” Governor Markell said. “We are fortunate in Sussex County to have excellent healthcare systems like this one. We are so fortunate to live in a world where access to heathcare is increasing. People want access, quality and affordability in healthcare which is what La Red and other federally-qualified health care centers are providing. We are moving away from fee-based services to paying for value and quality in healthcare.”
Joanne Grossi, the Regional Director for the United States Department of Health and Human Services called LaRed a “safety net for those who cannot afford healthcare” and applauded the organization for being the recipient of a portion of the $18 million given by the federal government to Delaware healthcare centers in the last year. James Boyton, II, who moved to Delaware from upstate New York, is a patient of La Red Health Center.
“We had two sick children one day,” Mr. Boyton said. “We had just moved here and didn’t have any healthcare arranged. Every doctor I called told me they couldn’t see me immediately and that I may have to wait several days. As you can imagine, dealing with two sick children even for a few hours is difficult. I called La Red and they saw us immediately. We have been patients ever since and I cannot thank them enough for the services they have provided for my family and I.”
La Red Health Center began in 2001 by a network of Sussex County physicians in order to meet the needs of an underserved population. The group partnered with a hospital, community center, faith-based organization and government in order to create a 24-hour per day, seven day per week telephone hotline designed to facilitate medical care for individuals with limited or no English proficiency. In 2003, La Red transformed into an independent, federally and privately supported ambulatory care center, opening a location in Georgetown. At that time, the organization realized that there was a greater need to provide low or no cost healthcare to citizens beyond those who spoke limited English.
“I recall being contacted by a lady about 15 years ago who brought me to the first La Red Center in Georgetown, Allison Burris,” said Senator Gary Simpson. “It was a small location and, about a year later, she brought me down again to a new location that was slightly bigger. Each time I visited a new location, they grew larger and larger. All because a local girl saw a need and took steps to fill that need.”
Representative Harvey Kenton said that Sue Smith, school nurse at Milford School District, told him that the new center in Milford, which is La Red’s third in Sussex County, would be a huge benefit to children in Milford who may not be able to get that care without such a program.
Mayor Bryan Shupe said that La Red’s decision to open a location in Milford was a sign that Milford was moving and moving fast, especially in the area of healthcare. He commended La Red for meeting the needs of an underserved population. Prue Albright, President of the Board of Directors for La Read, said that she wanted to clear up the myth that La Red was only for the poor and for the Hispanic population.
“Every patient is charged and expected pay what they can,” Ms. Albright explained. “We turn no one away and we do have a grant fund available to help those who are unable to pay. We began as an organization designed to meet the needs of those who speak limited English, but we have grown to much more than that. This center opened because we saw a need to provide services to all who may have limited access to healthcare in Northern Sussex County. Because Milford is the hub of Northern Sussex, it was only natural that we would look here to expand our services. We are thrilled to be part of the Milford community. I see many people here today who we are partners with and, if we are not partners with you, we want to be.”
La Red offers pediatric and adolescent services including infant care, childhood immunizations, chronic disease management, screenings, physicals, counseling and acute illness treatment. They also offer adult and senior services including acute illness treatment, chronic disease management, vaccinations, immunizations, employment screenings and annual physicals. Women’s Health Services such as routine gynecological and reproductive health services are also offered at the center. The center will also offer screening services for chronic diseases, cancer testing, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV as well as treatments for obesity.
La Red’s Milford center will initially be open Monday through Thursday from 8 AM until 5 PM. They hope to expand the hours in the near future. For more information, call 302-855-1233 or visit them online at www.laredhealthcenter.org.