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New Commission To Tackle Local Health Care Crisis


Leaders in the local health care industry, including several heavyweight competitors, have announced that they’re joining hands in an effort to provide health care to those with little or no health insurance. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports.

The collaborative effort is taking the shape of a new non-profit organization called the Springfield-Greene County Regional Health Commission. Local hospitals and agencies have resolved to tackle the complicated health-care crisis head-on. Kevin Gipson is the director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, one of the partners in the collaboration.

"I've worked in public health for 25 years, and we've been waiting at least that long, saying, 'Well, we'll just wait a while and federal government or the state government will fix this.' And we recognize that we need to be proactive at the local level, and the Regional Health Commission is one way that we think we can address some of these issues," Gipson said.

Some of the other players in the new effort are Cox Health, St. John’s Health System, Burrell Behavioral Health, and the Kitchen.

The commission’s executive director will be Carmen Parker Bradshaw. At a downtown press conference Thursday, she said the announcement comes after 18 months of talks and brainstorming on how to relieve the burden of the uninsured and underinsured.

"Now what we're going to do is, for the next two years, assess the situation metrically. We're going to evaluate everything on a factual basis, and we have everybody at hand to help us with this," she said.

Although they said they are just as eager as anyone to see results, the agencies were frank in saying that it will probably take a while before any new programs for the uninsured are up and running.

Steve Edwards is the executive vice president and chief operating officer of CoxHealth.

"Will it make a difference in people's lives in the first year? Maybe not. The issues are really complicated. But we think we can begin to make a difference. Again, the problems are too profound--we can't solve them all. But, you know, if there's one child, one mom that we care for that we didn't care for before, we've made a difference," Edwards said.

The new Springfield-Greene County Regional Health Commission is modeled after other health care collaborations in St. Louis and Kansas City. Funding, in part, will come from the philanthropic group the Missouri Foundation for Health, as well as the various local agencies.

The commission says its meetings will be open to the public and that it welcomes ideas and stories from both insured and uninsured members of the public.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.