News & Events

Community health being addressed by new center

March 1, 2017

The following column is an interactive q and a feature appearing the first Wednesday of each month. Readers are encouraged to send their health-related questions that will be answered by a local medical professional to Today's question is being answered by Amelia Kocher, MPA, and executive director of the Alliance Family Health Center (AFHC).

Q: I had been a patient of Alliance Obstetrics in the Professional Office Building a while ago and now I notice it is called something else. I see Dr. O'Dear has something to do with this new practice. What exactly is this Alliance Family Health Center? Can I use it for primary care? Diane S., Alliance

The Alliance Family Health Center (AFHC) opened its doors in October 2016 after Alliance Obstetrics closed in September. Currently AFHC is a women's health practice offering a full scope of obstetrics and gynecology services.

Dr. Craig S. O'Dear serves as the women's health medical director and remains a practicing physician within the practice. He is joined by myself, executive director, and Sharon Ryan, chief clinical officer, to round out the clinical and administrative leadership for the health center.

After five months of serving the community, AFHC has established itself as a top notch women's health practice and the providers and staff alike are thrilled with the reception they have received from the previous patients of Alliance Obstetrics.

The health center is dedicated to ensuring the community knows the Alliance Family Health Center is open for business and ready to create a new tradition of quality medical care with the inclusion of community education, disease prevention and outreach programs geared toward inviting the community to come see the exciting changes we are making.

Some of the exciting changes AFHC has brought into the community include the recent addition of newly hired employees that are Certified Community Health Workers (CHWs). These individuals are certified by the Ohio Board of Nursing and work as patient advocates to build individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency.

CHW's offer support services to any patient seeking pregnancy related care and are able to conduct patient home visits, health education, client-centered counseling and care management.

Other benefits of working with a certified CHW at the Alliance Family Health Center is they are available to work with patients outside of scheduled appointment times and can assist in connecting patients to other support services to ensure patients feel prepared and excited for a newborn's arrival.

These individuals are also available to work with patients to determine insurance eligibility and to make sure existing insurance coverage is understood.

The Alliance Family Health Center has been working as a partner with a Stark County initiative called THRIVE, which started in 2013 as a part of the Ohio Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes. THRIVE strives to work collaboratively with agencies and health care providers in the community to introduce evidence-based interventions to implement programs to reduce Ohio's high infant mortality rates.

Additionally, the Alliance Family Health Center will be unveiling CenteringPregnancy, a new model of prenatal health care that replaces traditional appointments for pregnant patients. This evidence-based model of care includes an ongoing health check-up with additional time, attention and education in a group setting. CenteringPregnancy prenatal care leads to healthier babies and is funded by the THRIVE program and is scheduled to begin in the summer.

To fully answer your question about primary care, please note that while the Alliance Family Health Center currently offers only women's health services, the health center is planning to expand within the year to include family practice services. At that time, the health center will be ready to serve the entire Alliance community.

AFHC is dedicated to the philosophy that every person deserves access to quality healthcare and will work hand in hand with the community to ensure the vision for a healthy community is realized. It is the goal of the Alliance Family Health Center, now and in the future, to strive to improve lives physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

We welcome new patients as we continue to grow and are eager to serve the Alliance area.

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