Wiltz reports Teche Action's impact to parish
Dr. Gary Wiltz, CEO of Teche Action Clinic, outlined the clinic’s impact on the health of the community before the St. Mary Parish Council on Wednesday.
He said that 10,068 persons used the clinic’s services between June 2017 and Oct. 2018. Of those, 1,839 were uninsured. “So in spite of Medicaid expansion we still see a large number of folks that are working, some of them working two jobs, who don’t have health insurance provided by their employees and they can’t afford that insurance even on the market,” he said.
To illustrate that condition, Wiltz pointed out that 18 percent of clients are self-pay; 54 percent are Medicaid; 16 percent are Medicare; and 12 percent are private insurance.
He said there are 343 homeless users; 101 veterans and 172 public housing clients.
“We are a means-tested organization, so anyone that comes to us has to provide proof of income,” Wiltz explained. “You can’t just come to us and say you don’t have income, you have to provide proof through your W-2 form, or if you work for someone, how much you’re being paid. We adjust that against the federal poverty guidelines then we do a sliding fee discount.”
There is often a nominal fee of $10-20. “If there is a hardship then we do promissory notes, and if they can’t pay that we dip into an indigent fund which is the money that you (the parish council) provides for us,” Wiltz said.
Sliding fee adjustment and uncompensated care rings in at $1,084,298; for the same in pharmacy, it is $302,091.
There have been 45,068 visits in the time period. They were 31,444 medical; 7,954 dental; 4,836 mental health and 734 enabling services.
Among diagnosis, the top were 31 percent hypertension; 21 percent anxiety, depression or similar; 16 percent diabetes and 11 percent tobacco use disorder.
The clinic employs 113 persons in the parish as an economic impact.
Mental illness is a pertinent issue. “It’s left the coroner and law enforcement community in straits,” he said. “Families don’t know what to do. They have people with severe mental illness, bipolar, and when they get out of control then they have no choice but to call the coroner for emergency commitment, or to call law enforcement. There’s an initiative called the Mental Health First Aid Program…we sent some of our folks to the training and that’s something we’re going to work closely with you on.”
He closed by quoting Hubert Humphrey: “The moral test of government is how that government tests those who are the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadow of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
Teche Action Clinic has a school-based clinic at West St. Mary High School and Raintree Elementary will have one soon. There are clinics in Morgan City, Pierre Part, Houma, Dulac, Thibodaux, Galiano, Reserve and Edgard.