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April 24, 2006

St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities Launches Project Safety Net

On April 4, 2006, President George H.W. Bush, Houston Mayor Bill White and David J. Fine, president and CEO, St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System, helped inaugurate St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities’ Project Safety Net. The nation’s first, interactive, bilingual and mappable web site is a link between the underserved in the Houston community and the clinics and organizations that offer healthcare to those individuals and families.

Visitors to can access the site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to learn about safety net clinic locations, services, hours of operation, languages spoken and financial requirements. Interactive maps pinpoint healthcare service providers in neighborhoods, which provide a broad variety of health services and serve as a viable alternative to hospital emergency rooms. “I believe that Project Safety Net will set a new standard for public healthcare in our country,” said Mr. Fine.

Project Safety Net was born from and endorsed by the Houston/Harris County Public Health Council’s Clinic Committee. With 30 percent of Harris County’s population uninsured, this web-based tool serves as a public health resource. Last year’s destructive hurricanes made clear the critical need for a centralized and dynamic system to identify healthcare providers for the underinsured and uninsured in our region.

“The tragedy of last year’s storms was a test of character, and the city of Houston reached out to its neighbors and gave time and resources selflessly,” said former President Bush addressing attendees at the launch. “So many precious human lives depended on the compassion of others to survive as they clung to hope and to one another. Project Safety Net will set an example throughout the United States as the spirit of basic human connection.”

Project Safety Net is also an important tool for public healthcare planners to prioritize and identify, with greater specificity, underserved areas where there is insufficient capacity and to determine expansion potential. Using this data, health planners can make strategic recommendations for the future.

“Project Safety Net and the programs that will grow from it will help millions of people find hope through affordable healthcare,” said Patricia Gail Bray, PhD, executive director, St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities. “We look forward to expanding this important community resource in the years to come.”

Harris County’s healthcare safety net comprises a broad range of local non profit organizations and government agencies that share the common mission of delivering healthcare to the underserved. Safety net clinics are non profit, community-based providers that offer health services to low-income people, including those without insurance. Most safety net patients are Medicaid, Medicare or CHIP enrollees, the uninsured, and other vulnerable populations that pay a sliding discounted fee for primary care services. Primary care services provided by the safety net clinics include, but are not limited to urgent care, acute and chronic disease treatment, mental health, vision, dental, preventive and well child care.

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