December 15, 2020
(Austin) – When Central Health and CommUnityCare hosted a grand opening of their new Hornsby Bend Health Center in March, no one imagined a global health pandemic was just around the corner.
The health center quietly began seeing patients in February – mainly nearby residents with low-income and without insurance. Central Health data indicates 1 in 5 Hornsby Bend households (21%) live in poverty— higher than the Travis County-wide average of about 14%.
But just a few short weeks after festive March 7 grand opening for the community, CommUnityCare was forced to temporarily close the clinic as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded due to a shortage in personal protective equipment for staff and patients, and to quickly consolidate staff resources across the health center’s network.
“That was really challenging,” said Mike Geeslin, Central Health President and CEO. “We celebrated with the community the clinic opening and then almost immediately, we had to shut down operations. However the need didn’t go away. In fact, the same people we planned to serve were hit hardest by COVID-19. We knew they needed that clinic opened as quickly as possible”
Compared to the rest of the county, Central Health Medical Access Program (MAP) members in Hornsby Bend have higher rates of poverty and higher rates of chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart failure and hypertension. If they’re exposed to COVID-19, they’re at greater risk of suffering more serious illnesses and even death.
After closing temporarily, the small, one-person provider clinic re-opened in late April. Like other CommUnityCare clinics, the Hornsby Bend facility offers both telehealth and in-person visit options by appointment for primary care, women’s health, well child checks and onsite lab.
CommUnityCare reports demend for care is increasing at the clinic, with patient utilization up by 53 patients a month since April.
“Since February, we’ve served more than 440 patients,” said CommUnityCare CEO Jaeson Fournier. “However; only about 40% of our available appointment slots have been filled – that means we have some more work to do to outreach and promote the available services in the community.”
In addition to primary and preventive care services, the facility features a flexible space for other health services like behavioral health and/or health coverage enrollment. It’s the first of its kind clinic in the historically underserved, rural community that is quickly changing as Austin’s growing population moves east.
The clinic serves as an interim health care solution for the Hornsby Bend as Central Health solidifies plans for a permanent facility in the area. Central Health’s budget for the 2021 fiscal year includes funds to begin the planning and construction of three new clinics in Eastern Travis County – Hornsby Bend, Colony Park and Del Valle. Central Health worked with members of the Austin Colony/Hornsby Bend Advisory Committee to identify and purchase land for a permanent health care facility. Central Health plans to start construction in 2021.
The current clinic is located on 14312 Hunters Bend Road next to the Travis County ESD 4 Fire Station, and is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Fridays from 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
To schedule an appointment at the Hornby Bend clinic, visit CommUnityCare or call 512-978-8881.
COVID-19 testing is available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. For more information call 512-978-8090.