Healthcare
6:01 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

St. Louis Safety-Net Healthcare Provider ConnectCare To Close All Services

The St. Louis-based safety-net healthcare provider ConnectCare will close its remaining facilities at the end of next week.

The Smiley Urgent Care Center, along with ConnectCare’s radiology, pharmacy, laboratory and preventative services will all close on Nov. 15.

The nonprofit organization, which served patients regardless of their ability to pay, had already discontinued outpatient specialty care and transportation services last month.

In an e-mail to St. Louis Public Radio, president and CEO Melody Eskridge said ConnectCare would have served about 17,000 patients this fiscal year.

But she said the organization was running out of money.

Eskridge said a key factor was the loss of funding caused by the state’s failure to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

The CEO of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission, Robert Fruend, sees this latest closure as part of troubling trend.

He says if Missouri does not act to expand its Medicaid program, the state stands to lose $4 billion in federal healthcare funding.

“You simply can’t provide the same level of service, and hire the same number of people, with $4 billion less, over the next six years,” Fruend said.

ConnectCare’s sexually transmitted disease clinic on Delmar Boulevard in North St. Louis will also be shutting its doors.

City Health Department director Pam Walker says there are about 6,100 cases of sexually transmitted infections ― or STIs ― reported in St. Louis every year.

About 15 percent of those were treated by ConnectCare.

“So we’re meeting with the big reporters, like the SPOT, like SSM, BJC, Downtown Urgent Care, North City Urgent Care, to see how they can help us strengthen that system, pick up some more clients…uninsured people that need STI treatment and care,” Walker said.

But Walker says if Missouri fails to expand its Medicaid program, St. Louis will continue to feel the impacts on its healthcare system.

Follow Veronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience