Georgia FQHC expands community reach with The Arc Partnership

Shelly Spires is part of the team at Albany Area Primary Health Care and serves on our National FQHC Advisory Board

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are a bridge to underserved communities that need increased health care support. By creating unique collaborations with organizations in the community, FQHCs not only provide primary and mental health care but also can help individuals engage in stronger self-care.

At Albany Area Primary Health Care (AAPHC) in Albany, Georgia, we strive to make these types of partnerships a priority. Our mission is to provide quality health care. We value connecting with the community and promoting health and wellness.

As an FQHC, we have had a longstanding connection with The Arc of Southwest Georgia, whose mission is to create life-changing solutions for people with disabilities. We have had the privilege of partnering with The Arc for the past 20 years.

We started with simple record reviews for their personal supports program and over time that collaboration has evolved — embracing new opportunities and advancements in technology. We have really worked to think outside the box. For example, we began using mobile units to deliver health care services to their clients during the pandemic and recently, we started deploying these to The Arc to offer pre-employment Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) screening. This health care service supports clients participating in the Arc’s employment services program.

Throughout the partnership we have discovered additional opportunities:

  • Educating individuals about the importance of primary care
  • Establishing primary care for those who currently do not have any 
  • Increasing engagement in self-care and helping set self-management goals

In the future, we hope to expand our reach by offering dental and optometry services to The Arc from the mobile health unit.

As AAHPC looks forward to other joint efforts to serve our community, we will be able to use the lessons from this partnership.

Being part of the community means being a good partner

Although we are a Federally Qualified Health Center, our focus is on our local community. Serving a region means meeting both mental and physical needs and welcoming every person, race, religion and socioeconomic class. No matter where an FQHC is located, there is a group like The Arc who could benefit from our services and who could help us to deliver on our mission more fully.

Helping people live healthier lives requires community connection and continuous improvement.  Effective ongoing partnerships are those that evolve as needs change. If you don’t know where to start, talk with your local or state aging and disability network. The only way to move the needle is for us all to get on board together.

To learn more about opportunities to improve primary care for people with disabilities, read the National FQHC Advisory Board's latest issue brief.

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