Diane DeVaughn Stokes from HTC Inside Out interviewed our CEO, Johanna Haynes, about the progress at Careteam Plus over the years including our Federally Qualified Health Center designation, our primary care for adults and children, and all the many ways we’ve expanded to meet the growing needs of our community.
Full Interview from HTC Inside Out
Diane: With this being a new year, I wanted to feature an old organization that’s been made brand new and that is Careteam, a wonderful nonprofit organization, which is now known as Careteam Plus and they’re located over near Conway Hospital. So we are in Conway today with Johanna Haynes who happens to be the CEO of this organization and was also with the former Careteam.
Diane: I’m so glad to be with you because having interviewed Careteam over the years, I know that your primary focus in the past was for AIDS patients and now even though you still see AIDS patients, you see everyone else as well. Boy, have you grown.
Johanna: We have grown. We’ve changed a lot. We just kind of morphed over the year. People wanted us, our patients wanted primary care. We saw them with patients with primary care and then they started asking if their friends could come or their family could come. And eventually we decided to go ahead and apply for a Federally Qualified Health Center designation. And we got that this past June. So we’re really excited about that. But we see everyone. Adults, pediatrics and we specialize in chronic disease management because that’s what we’ve been doing for the last 25 years.
Diane: Tell me how this works though, because, I mean, there’s a lot of organizations in town that are providing care for those in need. This is not free health care, but how do people pay?
Johanna: Well, we take almost all the major insurance companies and we also have a sliding fee scale. So depending on your household size and your income and so where you fall on this on the scale. And so everyone who comes pay something, but it depends on what your need is.
Diane: And even though there are some other nonprofits in the community throughout Horry, Georgetown counties that do the same sort of thing, wouldn’t you say there’s room for everyone because so many people are in need?
Johanna: Absolutely. There is room for everyone. We live in, I think, most people don’t understand, we live in a provider shortage area. As a matter of fact, one of the last statistics I saw was that there almost 60 primary care physician positions that we need in this area. If you try to get an appointment with a primary care physician, you’re looking in most places and at a three, four month wait just to get in. We’re just getting started. Good. We have about 2,500 patients so we can get you in pretty quick. Usually our new patient appointments are 24 to 48 hours. So we are accepting new patients and plan to have anyone, whether you have insurance or not.
Diane: Tell me Johanna who you have on staff here because from what you told me, it’s pretty impressive already.
Johanna: It is. We’re really lucky to have a physician who’s been in our community for a very long time. Dr. James Adamson and he’s been working for Conway physicians group for a long time. Had his own practice before that and he’s not quite ready to retire yet. Anyone to work part time. So he is here with us now. He works five days a week and we’re real excited to have him.
Diane: So well known, so respected. How perfect for you as well as for the community. Now what happens if someone comes in, Johanna, and they have a serious illness and they’ve got something that perhaps Dr. Adamson doesn’t want to treat or doesn’t feel qualified to handle. What happens then? Do you send this person somewhere else and how can you help them with that sliding scale?
Johanna: We do try to get patients to a specialty providers close to where they live. But sometimes we have to send them to places that do sliding scales and have charity care kinds of programs if they don’t have insurance. So we get them into the places that are most convenient and work for them. If there is a specialist that’s not available to them in this area, then we make sure and help them get to places like MUSC that can follow through. And then we come back and after they’ve seen the specialist and follow through with that chronic disease management.
Diane: I thought it was interesting that you do take people who have insurance, but there’s so many people Johanna with high deductibles. It seems that you really can help them. I bet you save a lot of people who have insurance money.
Johanna: Well yes, as a matter of fact, we do have quite a few patients who have medical insurance but because their deductibles or their copays are so much higher than they had been in the past, if they fall in our sliding fee scale area, then they can pay that instead of their copay. So for a lot of folks with insurance even it’s cheaper for them to use our sliding fee scale than to pay their copay or try to pay their premium deductible.
Diane: You told me that you’re still treating AIDS patients. What percentage of AIDS patients versus regular patients?
Johanna: 30% are still because we’ve been around for 25 years and we serve three counties, Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg County, for people living with HIV. So we’ve been doing that for a long time. But our non-HIV population is growing really very rapidly. We have about 2,500 patients now and most of them are not HIV.
Diane: You did tell me that there was something pertaining to AIDS patients however that you wanted to announce because it’s something new and innovative and you’ve got something available.
Johanna: Absolutely. It’s actually been around for several years, but getting the word out and letting people know and also it getting to a place where it’s a little more affordable. It’s a medication regiment called PrEP. Pre-exposure prophylaxis and it is specially designed for people who are at high risk for HIV and it is one pill once a day and it is 98% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV. And the good thing about that now is that Careteam Plus can make that available for anyone. So if you don’t have insurance, you’re low income, you can get the medication and medical treatment followup that you need here and we can do that for you for free.
Diane: Johanna, do you work with all the hospitals too?
Johanna: Absolutely. And we refer to all of the hospitals in the area. Conway, Mcleod, Grand Strand and of course Tidelands down on the south end. So we really try to refer and to, wherever the patient is living and who’s closest to them if they need a specialist.
Diane: So in wrapping it up, what would you like to say to our viewers? Because there are a lot of people out there who need you.
Johanna: Well, I think the important thing today, especially with healthcare, even for those who can afford it, it’s often tight because premiums are getting higher and deductibles are getting higher, copays are getting higher. And so healthcare is becoming less affordable, not more affordable. And we just want to make sure we see it as our mission to ensure that everyone has good access to quality healthcare. Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it. We want to make sure everyone has good access to great care.
Diane: Well there you have it friends. An old organization made not only brand new, but I’d say even better.
Johanna: Thank you. Thanks for having me.