NorthBay, OLE Health Celebrate Partnership

Intermittent rain storms couldn't dampen the enthusiasm as NorthBay Healthcare and OLE Health officially made their innovative partnership public with a grand opening event Thursday, Nov. 29.

At a podium set in front of OLE Health's colorful "Live Life Well" panels, a series of speakers explained to a crowd of local dignitaries, board members, managers and staff why it's a perfect partnership of two like-minded, patient-centric health organizations coming together to care for the community.

"We are now able to provide a whole range of services for our patients, all under one roof, so it reduces any barriers for patients getting care," said Alicia Hardy, CEO of OLE Health.

She shared a couple of stories on patients already seen at the new Fairfield site, including one homeless patient with shoes that were too small to wear. "Her feet were horribly blistered and the team treated her and bandaged her feet but she couldn't get her shoes back on," she explained.

The woman was prepared to leave and just buy new shoes later when a staffer jumped into action, going to her own car to pull out a spare set of sneakers and giving them to the patient.

"I said to her afterward what an incredible thing that was for her to do and she said, 'Oh, any medical provider would do that.' That demonstrates the caliber of staff and providers we have here."

Wayne Gietz, vice president of Ambulatory Services, praised the collaboration as well.

"This is going to be sustained and going to continue to grow and I think what we are looking at today will look different three months, six months, a year down the road," he said.

"There are all kinds of opportunities when you put together two organizations with one goal in mind: the goal of a healthy community."

Through a community benefit, NorthBay is providing OLE Health with 2,000 square feet of space on the first floor of the NorthBay Health Plaza. It was previously occupied by orthopedics.

It's a win for NorthBay because disadvantaged patients who might otherwise come to the emergency department for non-emergent care can now be directed across the street to OLE Health. It also provides a new option for discharge planners to connect uninsured and underinsured patients to comprehensive primary care and social services.

OLE Health is a federally qualified health center, which means that unlike NorthBay, it receives enhanced reimbursement for caring for the disadvantaged.

The new medical office in the health plaza is OLE's second in Fairfield. The other is in West Fairfield, just off Chadbourne Road.