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CAC-Florida Medical Centers: A model for the future of health care

By Ellen Nason

Simple, caring, coordinated and convenient. Those are not words typically associated with our nation’s complex and fragmented health-care system, but they are often used to describe CAC-Florida Medical Centers.

The 15 medical centers, all in South and Central Florida, primarily serve Medicare and Medicaid members who will find a broad range of medical services, from primary care to specialty care, as well as dental, vision and pharmacy.

“CAC-Florida Medical Centers are a perfect example of where we see health care moving – to an integrated health delivery model as opposed to treating sickness,” Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard said during a recent visit to Miami’s CAC Medical Center, which is a subsidiary of Humana. “We want a holistic relationship with our members.”

Dr. Sonia Michael, CAC’s Chief Medical Officer, has seen firsthand how effective the holistic approach can be.

“One of the unique aspects of CAC is the approach we take when treating our patients, who are predominantly seniors,” said Dr. Michael. “We take a step back and look at all aspects of a patient’s life – medical, social, economic and emotional. It’s easy to write a prescription for a patient who has diabetes, but does he or she have the resources to get the food that they need to live a healthier life or can we direct them to community agencies to help with those issues? Are they struggling with depression? It’s not simply about helping them temporarily … it’s about maintaining wellness. We work together on the long-term functionality of our patients and their quality of life.”

Mark Kent, President and CEO of CAC-Florida Medical Centers, is proud of the fact that the centers’ “outstanding level of coordinated service” to seniors and underserved low-income communities has created a model being replicated across the U.S. The centers’ achievements are being recognized by others as well. Last fall, CAC-Florida Medical Centers achieved NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home Certification because of its long-time commitment to high-quality primary and preventive patient care. Under the Patient-Centered Medical Home concept, primary care doctors coordinate all patient care with a team of providers, who systematically track tests and results to better identify patients at risk, and who provide prompt access to care and follow up after visits.

“By doing all of this, over a two-year period, we’ve reduced unnecessary emergency room visits by 57 percent and in-patient admissions by 42 percent across patients in our diabetes program,” Kent said. “The medical home concept, with a focus on primary and preventive care, has always been at the heart of our approach to quality patient care. We’re proud that our medical centers and our primary care physicians have achieved rigorous standards that physician practices must meet in order to attain this significant accomplishment.”

One of the most important services the centers provide is taking the complexity out of the health care system, said Bert Valdes, Chief Operations Officer at CAC-Florida Medical Centers, which Humana acquired in 2005.

“We are unique because we incorporate a multidisciplinary approach that allows seniors to rely on a single organization to manage the whole gamut of care, from routine to complex,” said Valdes. “And it goes beyond the medical needs. Our Wellness and Activities Centers provide an opportunity for CarePlus Health Plans members who may be alone and depressed to interact with people who have similar conditions and develop a support system, a social outlet.”

Valdes said the medical centers have a genuine culture of caring that has been built through many years of providing services to Florida communities.

“We have tremendous tenure among our associates,” he said. “We’ve grown with the communities we serve. In many cases, our associates have known a patient for 15 to 20 years and sometimes their parents or grandparents are patients.”

Valdes said that his best example of the value that the centers offer patients is based on the experience of a senior in his own family who lived alone and showed signs of anxiety and depression as she dealt with diabetes treatment. But he saw positive health and behavior change after she began attending lectures and exercise classes at the Wellness and Activities Center.

“She was persuaded to attend one educational health lecture at the center, then began attending more and more until it became a daily routine,” he said. “In the space of six months, we no longer received calls related to anxiety and other concerns. She developed a support network and even goes grocery shopping with people she met there. It changed her life, and she is a totally different person.”

Through its long-time commitment of providing coordinated, quality care, CAC-Florida Medical Centers are becoming a model for the future of health care.

Fast facts about CAC-Florida Medical Centers:

  • 15 multi-specialty medical centers located in South and Central Florida.
  • Achieved certification by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a level one Physician Practice Connections Patient-Centered Medical Home.
  • Diabetes Recognition Program developed by the NCQA and American Diabetes Association recognized CAC-Florida Medical Centers physicians for providing excellent diabetes care
  • Staffed by more than 100 primary care physicians and specialists.
  • 130 vans provide free transportation for all CarePlus Health Plans members.
  • 13 Wellness & Activities Centers that offer educational programs and group activities that focus on healthy aging, socialization and lifestyle enrichment and wellness.
  • CAC-Florida Medical Centers opened its doors to Miami-Dade County’s Hispanic population in 1964 under the name Clínica Asociación Cubana.
  •  Acquired by Humana in 2005.
  •  Most of the 15 centers offer these services in a single location: primary care, preventive care, cardiology, chiropractic, dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, general surgery, gynecology, neurology, ophthalmology, optometry, orthopedic surgery, podiatry, urology, pharmacies, dental offices, and ancillary services (X-rays, ultrasound).

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