One of the many things Hurricane Katrina devastated when it hit New Orleans in 2005 was the city's health care system. Two hospitals that had been the main sites of care for low-income, uninsured residents were closed for long periods; one remains so. In their place has emerged a network of more than 90 independent, neighborhood primary care clinics, funded with federal, state, and local money. To find out how well these community clinics were serving their high-need populations, The Commonwealth Fund conducted interviews with patients at 27 clinics in 2009. The findings are encouraging: most patients reported having easy access to care, helpful communication with clinicians, good management of their chronic illnesses, and preventive care. When they needed care, costs did not deter them from seeking it. The results suggest that the locally based clinics could serve as a model for delivering primary care to vulnerable populations elsewhere.
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