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Coastal Family Health Center reflects on bridging the great health divide

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:58 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Health has been one of the most discussed topics over the last couple of years due to COVID-19.

In 2019, the US Census Bureau reported that up to 18 percent of people under age 65 in South Mississippi didn’t have health insurance.

Health officials said this causes the price of prescription medication to rise. The Coastal Family Health Center has several locations across the Coast to provide affordable healthcare and health insurance.

Employees said their mission is to provide care to the community regardless of a patient’s economic status.

“Mississippi never expanded Medicaid for adults so that’s a huge burden to overcome,” said Coastal Family pediatrician Dr. Wendy Williams, “So, they are left without insurance, or they’re left to get health insurance at very high deductibles, which doesn’t really help provide or the day to day medical needs that they have,”

Williams said she has been with the organization for 12 years. She explained that Mississippians’ ineligibility to Medicaid leaves many patients with few options.

CFHC helps solve the issue by having its pharmacies become closed-door pharmacies, which provides prescription drugs only to patients.

Williams said the center participates in the federal 340B drug pricing program, which allows workers to provide outpatient drugs at reduced prices to all registered patients, regardless of prescription coverage.

“Based on that you pay a certain payment for your services. So, say your income is such and such then you would pay $20 for your visit, and that includes everything for that visit,” said Williams. “It depends on what services you’re getting.”

Williams said she sees improved results from patients, because workers must submit them to the government in order to get grants and extra funding.

She said out of the 35,000 patients the center saw last year, many are improving their health.

Williams said that almost 70% of its diabetic patients are decreasing their HbA1c, and 29% met their goal of decreasing HbA1c from >9 to ≤9.

“People are getting better,” said Williams. “Our health outcomes are improving, the results are there so we can prove that this works.”

The only downside is that Stone County is the only county in Mississippi without a CFHC in the area, meaning patients would have to travel for this kind of care.

However, Williams said that the center is expanding its services to Wiggins soon.

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