For many years, YMCA of Greater Charlotte members have been able to drop in to see a nurse for health screenings on their way to or from a workout.
In the future, through an expanded partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System, some YMCA sites will offer more comprehensive services that could include primary care or urgent care clinics that focus on keeping the community healthy.
On Tuesday, Gene Woods, CEO of Carolinas HealthCare, and Todd Tibbits, CEO of the YMCA, announced that the two organizations, which already have a “strong alignment in mission,” will broaden their alliance in five areas – preventing and managing chronic disease, improving behavioral health, improving access to care, reducing violence and eliminating health disparities.
“Some of it is concrete; some of it is in development,” Woods said. “…There’s a lot of conversation about not waiting for the government to come and solve our problems. This is an example of community organizations coming together to solve problems.”
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The two organizations will create a Health and Wellness Advisory Board, led by Dr. Alisahah Cole, medical director of community health at Carolinas HealthCare, to establish strategy and guide programs. About 58,000 households have YMCA memberships. But services will be also be available to nonmembers. “Anybody, through a referral, can come to the YMCA,” Tibbits said.
An assessment of needs will help determine which services should be provided at which YMCA locations. “What’s needed on the west side may not be what’s needed on the north side,” Cole said.
As part of the arrangement, the YMCA’s current diabetes prevention program will become a “covered benefit” in 2018, meaning that services provided in YMCA sites can be reimbursed by Medicare, the government health program for seniors, as if they were provided in a private doctor’s office.
Near the end of the year, the organizations will launch a mobile unit to take health services to urban and rural communities where access is limited. Also, a clinic of some type – the particulars haven’t been decided yet – will have 5,700 square feet of space in the Dowd YMCA after its upcoming renovation is completed.