Coeur d’Alene-based nonprofit health care provider Heritage Health has witnessed a six-fold increase in the number of patients it serves annually during the past decade. With the state of Idaho’s upcoming Medicaid expansion and an anticipated increase in demand from Medicare patients, that number is expected to ramp up even more in the coming years, CEO Mike Baker says.
“I believe that over the next five or six years, we need to double in size. We’ll be looking at about 60,000 patients instead of 30,000 patients,” Baker says. “That’s going to be a big lift for all of us, but that’s the pace that our community is growing.” Baker says Heritage Health, which operates 12 offices and clinics throughout North Idaho and employs 300 people, of which about 100 are providers, is likely to be busy serving new Medicaid patients, and the costs of serving those patients will briefly spike.
Heritage Health provides primary medical care, general dentistry, pediatrics, counseling, and psychiatric services to patients regardless of their ability to pay. The nonprofit was founded in 1985 as Dirne Health Centers Inc., with the mission to help people who don’t have access to health care. The organization rebranded has Heritage Health in 2013, but still operates under the Dirne name.
With the aim of serving patients more effectively, Heritage Health has made some radical changes to the way it treats patients, Baker says. Providers attempt to impart to patients the importance of healthy daily habits in creating positive long-term outcomes, a departure from the traditional “disease-focused model” that Baker says is more concerned with the past than the future.