Medical Director Receives State's Top Honor
Dr. Charles Bentlage, Medical Director for ACCESS Family Care, is the recipient of the 2010 Samuel U. Rodgers Achievement Award. This award annually honors the designee for their commitment to increasing access for the uninsured and underinsured in Missouri, for their public service in helping communities, and for their commitment to the community health center model of providing quality health care.
“I can say that receiving this award is an unexpected honor and I accept it with humility knowing that there are others more deserving, “states Bentlage.
Missouri Primary Care Association (MPCA) of Jefferson City made the announcement last week. According to MPCA the award is named in honor of the late Dr. Samuel U. Rodgers who started the first community health center west of the Mississippi in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr, Rodgers said he began to dream of becoming a doctor just like his father and vowed he’d never turn anyone away just because they were poor. Rodgers often related that one of his earliest memories as a child was the sound of footsteps crunching on gravel outside his family’s rural Alabama home in the 1920s. People desperately in need of a doctor’s care would knock on the door and he’d hear them tell his father, “My wife’s sick doc”, or “my child needs a doctor”. Some had walked for miles just to knock on the door. Most couldn’t afford the care they received and so his father was paid with hogs, chicken and pies.
Bentlage adds, “During my career in health care spanning over the past 50 plus years, I have long been concerned about the large number of people who neglect their health because of lack of access to affordable care. As a physician you don’t have to practice very long to see patients with diseases in advanced stages who would have had better outcomes had they been able to gain access to care sooner. Such disparities should not exist and are unacceptable in our world today.”
Early leaders such as Dr. Rodgers were instrumental in establishing the community health center movement. “Community Health Centers such as ACCESS Family Care provide that needed access to care for ever increasing numbers of our uninsured and under insured citizens. At such centers, the care is not free, but it is affordable and of high quality. Uninsured patients are charged on a sliding scale, dependent upon family income,” states Bentlage.
Dr. Bentlage has been serving as ACCESS Family Care’s Medical Director for the last three years. Pervious to that, he was the Medical Director for Freeman Hospital in Joplin and for several years was a local surgeon serving the community. “The opportunity to work at ACCESS Family Care to help to provide care for patients who often have nowhere else to go for care has been a rewarding experience, and I indeed have been richly blessed to have had that opportunity,” sates Bentlage.
The award presentation will take place at MPCA’s annual meeting held this year in Branson in October.
ACCESS Family Care (ACCESS), was founded in 1996 as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) for the purpose of increasing access to primary health care for those who lack medical insurance coverage. As an FQHC, ACCESS receives a 330 Federal grant from the Bureau of Primary Health Care designed to offset the expenses associated with providing sliding fee discounts to patients who demonstrate economic need.
ACCESS Family Care—Anderson with both medical and dental services is located at 927 N. Business 71 Anderson. It’s open Monday through Friday 8:00 AM-5:00 PM with late hours until 7:00 PM on Tuesdays and can be reached at 417-845-8300. The dental clinic is located in the same building with the same hours, except they close at 2:00 on Fridays, and can be reached at 417-845-2273.
ACCESS Family Care—Cassville, formerly the James D. Warn Community Clinic, is located at 1101 Main Street Cassville, and can be reached at 417-847-0057. The clinic is open Monday through Friday 8:00 AM-5:00 PM with late hours until 7:00 PM on Tuesdays.
ACCESS Family Care—Joplin with medical, pediatrics, and dental combined in one location is located at 530 S. Maiden Lane. The hours there are Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM and late hours until 7:00 PM on Tuesdays. Medical services now observe extended hours Monday-Saturday until 8:00 PM. For medical appointments call 417-782-6200 and for dental appointments call 417-782-0080.
ACCESS Family Care’s administrative offices are located at 4301 Doniphan Drive in Neosho, Missouri, and the phone number is 417-451-9450.
“One of the special characteristics of community health centers is that they create access to healthcare for the poor and language minority. We are doing a good job with that at ACCESS,” comments Chief Executive Officer Don McBride.
Last year, ACCESS increased patient visits by 25%. 41% were uninsured, 47% were Medicaid recipients, and 4% were Medicare patients. “We’ve seen phenomenal growth as we have responded to the immense primary care needs in southwest Missouri. We have a vision to continue to expand and work with area hospitals and dentists to continue to provide these much-needed services to the uninsured and underinsured,” adds McBride.