In the midst of public discourse on issues that are critically important to our local communities, there should always be plenty of room for reasonable people to disagree on thoughtfully proposed solutions. Honest and accurate input on programs or initiatives that are designed to positively impact our communities should always be welcome. I believe that this is particularly true in health care given the direct impact it has on the lives and well-being of the patients we serve.

That is why I was particularly discouraged to read a recent editorial regarding our initiative to create a fully integrated care model known as the New Haven Primary Care Consortium. The initiative calls for Yale New Haven Hospital, Fair Haven Community Health Care and Cornell Scott Hill Health Center to come together to transition care of YNHH Primary Care Clinics to the two community health centers. The plan is to consolidate multiple current YNHH clinic sites to a recently renovated, state of the art, 50,000 square foot facility on Sargent Drive in New Haven. Planning for this transition has spanned nearly four years with attention devoted to literally hundreds of details that can and do impact patient care. Improving the patient experience while enhancing patient care has driven every aspect of this proposal.

I know because I have participated in this critical initiative as the CEO of Fair Haven Community Health Care, an organization devoted to the care of over 18,000 low income patients annually. As the leader of Fair Haven CHC, I am committed to ensuring that our patients receive the best possible care, delivered with compassion and caring. Our more than 200 employees work hard, every day, to ensure that our patients receive the highest possible quality of care in a patient centric fashion.

This is why I need to call out the erroneous information about quality of the care that was included in an editorial on Dec. 3.

In that opinion piece, Ellen Andrews of the CT Health Policy Project, states “In 2015, Connecticut’s community health centers performed worse than other Medicaid providers in 11 of 12 quality measures…”  While Ms. Andrews does not publish the source of her statistics, I do know that 2017 data published by the state of Connecticut, refute her allegations about the quality of care provided at Fair Haven Community Health Care.

Every year, the state of Connecticut like most other states, publishes the results of dozens of HEDIS measures. HEDIS or The Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set is a widely used set of performance measures developed and maintained by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. In 2017, Connecticut Medicaid or Husky patients cared for at Fair Haven Community Health Care had outcomes that exceeded or equaled the state average 78 percent of the time.

In her editorial, Ms. Andrews also states “Community health center patients, including New Haven’s two centers, are far more likely to visit an ER than other Medicaid members, even those without a usual source of care.” 

Based on Connecticut’s HEDIS measures, in 2017 Fair Haven Community Health Care had 67.54 ER visits per 1000 member months, compared with a state average of 64.39 ER visits per 1000 member visits. While Fair Haven’s patients visited the ER at a rate slightly higher than the state average, this is overtly at odds with Ms. Andrews’ claim that our patients are “far more likely to visit an ER.” 

Exaggeration drives home a point but at the expense of truth.

While I understand the emotion underlying the issues at hand, it is critically important that we ensure that we do not allow our emotions to distort the truth. No one is served by the promulgation of falsehoods.

The staff of Fair Haven Community Health Care is proud of the high quality care they provide — they should be applauded, not insulted with false data.

Suzanne P. Lagarde is CEO of the Fair Haven Community Health Care.

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