The Indianapolis Medical Society Foundation's Project Health program will close at the end of the month. The organization says the effort provided more than $39 million in free care to uninsured Marion County patients since 2003.

March 24, 2014

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. — Project Health, the Indianapolis Medical Society Foundation's largest and longest running charity program, is closing effective March 31, 2014, after providing more than $39 million in free care to low income, uninsured residents of Marion County since 2003.

“This has been a huge community collaboration that would not have been possible without the 2,000 physician volunteers, Community Hospitals, IU Health Hospitals, St. Vincent Hospital, and Mid-America Clinical Labs, that DONATED all of their care to Project Health patients,” says Paula Hall, MD, President of the IMS Foundation. The goals of Project Health were to increase access to comprehensive healthcare to low income, uninsured residents of Marion County and to reduce the burden of frivolous emergency room visits on the hospitals. Project Health certainly did that.

In 2003, seventy-seven percent of these patients used the emergency rooms for non-emergency purposes. One year later, less than one percent did. They achieved this with intensive patient education on appropriate ER use and having the patients sign an agreement not to use the emergency rooms unless it was a true emergency. Dr. Hall adds “the goal was to get whatever was wrong with the patient fixed once and for all so they wouldn't need the emergency rooms and to make sure they all had family doctors or clinics for everything else.”

In the last 10 years there have been 41,000 patient appointments and 32,200 procedures including 14 open heart surgeries, 5 brain surgeries, 5 corneal transplants, 101 cancer surgeries with chemotherapy and radiation, 94 laser treatments for diabetic retinopathy, 145 cataract removals, 59 shoulder repairs, 5 knee and 4 hip replacements and the list just goes on and on. There was no “clinic.” The patients received a Project Health membership card and went straight to the doctors' offices just like anyone else. That is why it worked for both the volunteer doctors and the patients.

According to Dr. Hall, virtually all of the patients fell within the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) eligibility guidelines, so the Project Health Case Managers have been helping them make that transition. Those people who are considered to be in the gap between Medicaid and the ACA are eligible for Eskenazi's Advantage Health (formerly Wishard Advantage), including undocumented residents.

“All of us at the Indianapolis Medical Society, the IMS Foundation and Project Health are very grateful to the doctors, hospitals, community clinics and other organizations for sharing the vision back in 2003 for a better, more efficient way to deliver health-care to low income, uninsured residents of Marion County,” Dr. Hall added.

Major funding was provided by the participating hospitals, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Anthem, the Marion County Health Department, the Central Indiana Community Foundation, Medical Protective Insurance, the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis, and very generous donations by the physicians themselves. Locally-based iSalus Healthcare donated their electronic medical records system.

Source: Indianapolis Medical Society Foundation

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