Special to the Island News
Uninsured or underinsured hospitality workers in Beaufort will now have access to high-quality, affordable primary care services thanks to a new health care practice developed by Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH) in partnership with the Beaufort Area Hospitality Association (BAHA).
Beaufort Memorial Direct Primary Care provides participants with an array of basic medical and preventive care services, including annual physicals or women’s health exams, up to 30 in-person or telemedicine visits a year, routine laboratory studies, electrocardiograms and annual flu vaccinations, for a low membership fee of $50 a month. There is no additional charge or copay for sick care visits.
“Direct Primary Care is designed for individuals who haven’t had access to primary care services and empowers them to take control of their health,” Beaufort Memorial Hospital President and CEO Russell Baxley said. “The goal is to keep them out of the ER, manage acute chronic conditions proactively, and focus on good lifestyle choices and wellness.”
Located in the Port Royal Medical Pavilion at 1680 Ribaut Road, the Direct Primary Care clinic will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and is staffed by board-certified BMH family nurse practitioner Miranda Moss, FNP-C, along with a support team. A Beaufort native and experienced health care provider, Moss began her medical career as a staff nurse at Beaufort Memorial, and most recently was part of the team of providers at the Beaufort Memorial Express Care clinic.
“My primary focus is to help patients stay as healthy as possible, emphasizing the importance of preventative care and screenings,” said Moss, who indicated that she plans to serve as a navigator for patients to ensure they have affordable options for prescriptions, diagnostics and specialty care. “That is really what direct primary care is about – providing access for patients that is also affordable, so that they are able to live their best and healthiest lives.”
Appointments for annual physicals and sick visits can be scheduled in advance using Beaufort Memorial’s patient portal. If a patient needs to see a specialist or requires additional services, the practice staff will help coordinate the care using low-cost alternatives like MD Save, a health care marketplace where you can purchase visits and services at low rates.
“Health care for small business owners and employees is crucial,” said Jonathan Sullivan, BAHA Board chairman and president of Spartina Hospitality which manages the Beaufort Inn and the Quality Inn. “Sometimes employees will avoid taking care of medical issues in fear of a large medical expense or simply because they don’t have a primary care provider. Their condition may worsen and then they end up out of work longer than they can afford. This is a great way for us to invest in our team members by making sure they have access to affordable primary care.”
Direct Primary Care has other benefits, too. While most primary care practices have an average of 1,500 patients, Direct Primary Care is limited to 500 members, allowing the health care provider to spend more time with patients.
“Instead of the standard 15- to 30-minute visit, this health care model is designed to provide face-to-face interaction with a dedicated provider for 30 minutes to an hour per visit,” Baxley said. “After the visit, a nurse navigator will follow up to make sure the patient is doing what he or she needs to do to stay healthy and out of the hospital.”
The innovative health care program is currently open to BAHA partner businesses and their employees who are either uninsured or have high-deductible, catastrophic health care insurance. Those who enroll cannot be eligible for Medicare, Medicaid or Tricare to participate in the program.
“Living in an area that is so dependent on hospitality and tourism to drive the economy, we need to focus on supporting those that make up the workforce,” Hospitality Association President & CEO Ashlee Houck said. “This program is a giant step in the right direction.”
Employers may elect to cover the program costs for their employees, or employees can enroll individually and pay their member fees directly. The annual membership, which renews each year on October 1, may be canceled by the employer or employee with 24 hours’ notice.
“The Beaufort Memorial Direct Primary Care program is a phenomenal resource for providing healthcare to an underserved industry,” said Houck. “The program will strengthen our industry, increase wellness within the workforce and aid in recruiting and retaining hospitality employees within the area.”
Hospitality business owners and BAHA members interested in taking advantage of this affordable preventive care option should visit BeaufortMemorial.org/DirectPrimaryCare for information about enrollment.
Board-certified nurse practitioner Miranda Moss, right, will be seeing patients at the new Direct Primary Care practice. Submitted photo.