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Valencia County News Bulletin

By Deborah Fox/Reporter

Los Lunas government employees won't have to travel far to see their family physician now that the village has a new primary care clinic for them and the 10,000 Valencia County residents covered by Lovelace Health Plan.

The new facility, Atrinea Health Clinic, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and is located at 3428 State Highway 47 Suite C.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28.

The Los Lunas Atrinea Health Clinic offers a new model of patient care, and is the third clinic of the three uniquely modeled Lovelace Health Plan partnerships with Atrinea Health in New Mexico.

The other two clinics are in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque behind the Lovelace Women's Hospital.

The clinics are modeled on a new paradigm of health care called a Patient Centered Medical Home, developed by Dr. Philip D. Briggs, in an effort to solve the nation's shortage of primary care physicians and offer greater quality care while lowering costs.

The focus is heavily on preventive medicine, said Briggs.

The model also reduces emergency room and hospital visits to lower medical costs.

One of the most important functions of the clinic is to keep people from getting sick enough that they need to go into the hospital, Briggs said, and costs are immediately cut by less emergency room and hospital visits.

Dr. John Cruickshank, chief medical officer for Lovelace Health System, partnered with Briggs to promote the PCMH model.

"This is a new model of health care delivery from the office setting, from the primary care perspective that is only now beginning to take root in the state," said Cruickshank.

"The Patient Centered Medical Home and care coordination model, and finding a partner like Dr. Briggs and Atrinea to push that model forward, has been a tremendous asset, not only to us, but to our commitments to our membership and the employer groups that we also insure."

The most important difference in the PCMH model is that it is based on a team approach, so the physician has less of the burden of tasks that don't require a medical license to do.

"So, it makes them much more efficient," Briggs said.

The PCMH provides patients with a clinical team that includes a medical director, health care coordinator, patient educator, case manager, health coach and other members, he said, and allows physicians to put their full focus on patient engagement.

There is a big emphasis on preventive care, improving the quality of care, yet reducing costs.

The patient educator of the team informs patients of age-specific medical tests and other preventive measures. Tests such as mammography and colonoscopies are typically 100 percent covered, Briggs said.

The team works closely with other providers, such as pharmacists and dieticians, as well as offers support with more timely preventative measures, such as weight loss, diet changes and smoking cessation.

"It enhances and coordinates the patients' care not only in the office, but throughout the whole system," Briggs said.

Woven into the team approach is the coordination between specialists, surgeons for more complex surgeries, and hospitalization procedures if and when they are needed by the patient.

"That kind of coordination that can be provided in this office, it takes a lot to put that together and make sure it's seamless. So when you're referred up to Albuquerque things are done appropriately," said Cruickshank.

"You don't have delays in your care and getting consultations and gaining access to those critical specialists that aren't in this community."

The other differences in the PCMH model of health care maintenance and delivery is the heavy investments in support from health information technology, he said.

The clinic has electronic patient medical records that can be accessed throughout the system, Briggs said.

"That gives us the ability to look for gaps in care, for instance mammograms that need to be done for preventive services," he said.

Future plans include extending the clinic's hours of operation, bringing in some mental health services, and also scheduling the presence of a New Mexico Heart Institute cardiologist to see heart patients.

A video about the PCMH model is available in both English and Spanish at the website www.emmisolutions.com/medicalhome/transformed/.

Atrinea Health Clinic offers family health care, health screenings, preventive exams, diabetes prevention and treatment, wellness education, and it provides same-day service.

The provider is Dr. Leslie O'Connell, a family practice physician. The phone number is 565-2817.

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