Neighborhood Family Practice is one of the first recipients of funding from the Federal Communication Commission’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program. To date, just six health care organizations across the U.S. have received this funding, with NFP being the only provider in Ohio.

As part of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress appropriated $200 million for the FCC to support health care providers’ use of telehealth services during this national emergency.

In less than three weeks, the Commission adopted new rules for this new program, created the application process, opened the application window and approved the first set of funding requests. The FCC began accepting applications on Monday of this week and will continue to evaluate applications and distribute funding on a rolling basis.

“Telehealth has emerged as a critical service for health care providers and patients alike during the Coronovirus pandemic,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “It promotes social distancing, protects the safety of health care professionals and patients and frees up space in health care facilities for those who now need it most. I am confident that the funding we approved today will allow the selected health care providers to expand their telehealth efforts.”

Telemedicine appointments – where a patient meets with an NFP provider by video or phone when video is not possible – were first made available to both new and existing NFP patients just a few weeks ago.

“NFP is known for providing affordable, quality health care to all who need it, regardless of ability to pay,” says Jean Polster, RN, MS, NFP’s president and chief executive officer. “We had planned to implement telemedicine in 2021 as part of our strategic plan, but with the arrival of COVID-19, NFP leadership and providers took immediate action to make this service available now.”

“The addition of telemedicine services at NFP in just a matter of days required significant financial and human resources. The $244,282 award to us by the FCC will help us continue to provide telemedicine, connected devices and remote monitoring of patients,” Polster continued.

Once NFP’s telemedicine process was in place, patient service representatives began contacting existing NFP patients to reschedule needed appointments.

“With the health and safety of our patients and staff at the forefront of what we are doing, we take pride in the fact that for every patient we triage, care for by phone or video or provide counseling to, we are helping reduce the strain on area hospitals and emergency room workers by keeping these patients in an outpatient setting,” says Melanie Golembiewski, MD, MPH, NFP’s assistant medical director.

Dr. Golembiewski and Chad Garven, MD, MPH are physicians and public health specialists who provide care to patients at NFP community health centers. The two of them were instrumental in the effort to make telemedicine visits available, allowing NFP to continue to provide quality affordable care to all who need it, regardless of ability to pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To schedule a telemedicine appointment with an NFP provider today, please call 216.281.0872.

IMPORTANT: NFP is not conducting COVID-19 testing. Individuals experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath should NOT go to an NFP community health center, please call us at 216.281.0872 for information on how to obtain care.