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In 2001, at the invitation of United Way of Forsyth County, business and community leaders came together to discuss the growing number of medically uninsured in Forsyth County. A twenty-member committee worked for two years reviewing options for increasing access to care for the medically uninsured. The Winston-Salem Foundation provided funding to hire a consultant to assess community needs and develop a plan of action.

The 2002 report from the consultant reflected a community rich in healthcare resources. Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Forsyth Medical Center, Downtown Health Plaza, Community Care Center and over 1,500 physicians positioned Forsyth County as a major health provider in North Carolina. The consultants acknowledged the work of a group of physicians who created a charity care program, Doctor's Care, for the working poor - serving about 300 patients per year from 1993-2003. Doctor's Care was an important component of the healthcare safety net.

In July 2003 the committee acted upon the recommendations of the report by creating a private non-profit tax exempt corporation to address the unmet needs of access to care for the medically uninsured. Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and Forsyth Medical Center provided start-up funding. An eleven-memeber board of directors was created and Dr. Harold Martin was elected as chair of the board. In October 2003 the executive director was hired. Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center provided an office suite in teh Twin City Medical Building. The Duke Endowment awarded a three-year tiered grant for program start-up.

In January 2004 the first patient was enrolled. Dr. Edward Beason served as the physician advocate recruiting physicians to participate in HealthCare Access. By the end of 2004, over 800 physicians participated in HealthCare Access. Currently over 1,360 physicians provide care to the uninsured through HealthCare Access.

HealthCare Access began with a vision of serving Forsyth, Stokes and Davie counties. In late 2007, Davidson and Yadkin counties were included in the service area. The HealthCare Access board of directors is continuing the mission of HealthCare Access and creating a vision for future collaboration and sustainability.




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