In 2006 four local groups -- the Partnership for a Healthy Durham, Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods), Latino Community Credit Union, and Durham Health Partners -- came together to advocate for improved healthcare for the low-income uninsured population in Durham County. They began researching potential local solutions to this problem and bringing together the local agencies, organizations, and leaders who would need to be involved.
In December 2006 these community groups convened all the local stakeholders to commit to designing and implementing a local program to expand healthcare to Durham's low-income uninsured population. All agreed at the beginning that this is a national, or at least statewide, problem, but we cannot afford to wait for those slow processes to create real change for our neighbors in need. Durham has too many resources to wait. Once Durham makes positive changes, this will drive change at higher levels.
One of the results of this process was the birth of Project Access of Durham County. This is an independent, locally supported nonprofit uses existing resources to provide specialty care to uninsured Durham residents living under 200% of the federal poverty level. Many of these people have access to primary care through Lincoln Community Health Center or other safety-net healthcare providers, but specialty care has been a challenge. For example, if one of these patients needs a cardiology (heart doctor) consultation and echocardiogram (a test for how well the heart is performing), Lincoln and other primary care providers may not be able to help them.
Project Access of Durham County (PADC) creates a system by which physician specialists can volunteer to provide this needed care at no charge to the patient. PADC emerged out of this extraordinary process of commitment from many groups.