AccessHealth Gets All A’s: Affordable, Accessible, Advanced Healthcare for Fort Bend

Dr. Pamela Liang with patient Eliana Bolanos.

COVER STORYBy S. Barot | Photos by Alisa Murray Photography –

As the nation waits with bated breath for a resolution on healthcare policy and millions of Americans continue to experience rising healthcare costs, AccessHealth in Fort Bend County is changing the game to affordable and accessible healthcare.

AccessHealth is a private, nonprofit community health center that primarily operates in both Fort Bend and Waller counties that offers primary healthcare services and provides care and payment options for the underserved, underinsured and uninsured. The clinic ensures that everyone – regardless of income or circumstance – gets quality, affordable primary care services.  A large percentage of AccessHealth’s patient population is uninsured.

“AccessHealth was founded on the premise that everyone, regardless of socio-economic background, deserves adequate, affordable and accessible healthcare,” said Development Director Cynthia Reaves. “Our patients know that AccessHealth is a place where they can get reliable and quality care that is also affordable. They know that we are not going to turn them away.”

History of AccessHealth

Established in 1975, AccessHealth began as a Women, Infant and Children (WIC) clinic and became a United Way agency in 1977. In 1978, a comprehensive maternity program and soon after, pediatric services were implemented. At the time the agency was founded, there were no other medical groups offering prenatal or delivery services to underserved women in Fort Bend County.

AccessHealth continues to add care services to meet the healthcare needs of the community. The agency currently offers OB/GYN and Women’s Health Services, Family Practice, Adult Care, Pediatrics, Dental, Behavioral Health (Mental Health), Nutrition and Podiatry Care, among others. The agency also operates a full-time pharmacy and a laboratory. With four large primary care clinics and 11 WIC clinics in the area, AccessHealth saw 17,549 unique medical patients and 31,861 unique WIC patients in 2016 alone.

The clinic operates on an integrated healthcare model to treat patients as it provides a holistic approach to medicine. Providers at AccessHealth have access to a patient’s electronic medical records. If treating a specific patient, all care providers can view the patient’s records. So each care provider, whether it is a primary care physician, dentist or therapist, will be updated on the patient’s diagnoses, treatment, laboratory results and prescriptions.

AccessHealth accepts all major private insurance plans, health insurance and marketplace plans including Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There are certified application counselors onsite to assist in determining if there are programs that patients qualify for and helping them complete those applications. For those who are not eligible for one of those programs, AccessHealth offers a sliding fee schedule that is based on income. This is determined when the patient registers, and the fee covers the office visit, basic lab work and basic radiology services.

As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), AccessHealth receives some monies for the clinic’s use. Because of the FQHC designation, it must adhere to stronger rules and regulations.  FQHC status is granted by maintaining certain quality and performance measures.  This designation allows for a grant that covers a portion of the funding needed to provide care for the uninsured and the underinsured.  AccessHealth is required to report quality and performance measures each year that compares them to the region, state and country.  These are evaluated, as well as the many policy and governance requirements that are placed as a condition of this opportunity.

Tiny Patients, Extensive Pediatric Care

Bridget Brumfield, Director of Clinical Operations; Angie Humble, Pediatric Assistant and Dr. Michael Lawson.

Since its establishment, AccessHealth, formerly known as Fort Bend Family Health Center, placed an emphasis on quality care for children. The pediatric team manages all patient needs short of specialty care. Services include annual Well-Child exams, sick visits, immunizations, laboratory testing and Behavioral Health, among other things.

The pediatric team, led by the Chief Medical Officer of AccessHealth and pediatric provider Dr. Michael Lawson, exceeds expectations of their patients. Not only does AccessHealth have various pediatric services, the team works hard to ensure that the healthcare needs of patients are met.

“I believe in the mission, and I love our patients,” said Dr. Lawson. “I feel there is a real need here, and I am proud to say that we are meeting that need, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Our patients depend on us and are very trusting, so it’s our responsibility to provide them the best care possible.”

Parents like Sandra Elias, whose son and daughter are patients of Dr. Lawson, suffer from eczema and frequent ear infections, respectively. Elias expressed great appreciation for the care her children receive.

“We’re so grateful to have this place as an option,” Elias said. “AccessHealth is different from other clinics. We get great care every time, and it’s less expensive.”

Reaves added that the pediatric clinicians work diligently with specialists in the community to make sure the patients get the services they need.  AccessHealth staff works with civic groups and other organizations to obtain funding for some of their patient’s needs that they may not be able to meet, such as nebulizers and prescription drugs like EpiPens®.

“When there is a need, there is a way,” said Dr. Almas Zane, pediatric provider in Stafford.  “The provider team at AccessHealth recognizes the need for medical care and is dedicated to providing it to the community. I am proud to be a part of this noble mission. As a pediatrician, I enjoy every day as I partner with the rest of the team at AccessHealth and with parents to provide the health care a child needs, and in my own small way, help a child reach the potential they are meant for.”

Some of the pediatric patients become affiliated with AccessHealth from the womb by way of the WIC program. The WIC program is designed for pregnant women, new mothers and mothers with children up to the age of five.  The program is designed to teach women about proper nutrition and is meant to support mothers and their children from pregnancy to delivery to raising a toddler through the child’s fifth birthday.

“Our patients are grateful that there is someone here to treat them,” Reaves said. “Many of them are constantly having challenges meeting their basic needs. We are here to help them regain control of their health.”

A Community Effort

To keep affordable and accessible healthcare within Fort Bend County, funding and community support are imperative. AccessHealth hosts three separate events throughout the year to raise awareness for their programs.

The first of the events is held in April. AccessHealth’s Community Challenge Event is a softball and kickball tournament. Proceeds help AccessHealth provide health care to families and individuals who would otherwise likely go without the medical care they need.  AccessHealth also hosts two annual Community Operation Health Fairs in August. These back-to-school health fairs offer immunizations, dental screenings, vision screenings, backpacks and school supplies to those who attend.

In October, AccessHealth will honor Fort Bend County residents Carole and Bob Brown at the 4th Annual Heart of Fort Bend fundraising event for their contributions to the community and AccessHealth.

The Future of AccessHealth

Though AccessHealth is pioneering the way for affordable and accessible healthcare in the Fort Bend County area, they believe they have much more to do.  Reaves added that although the future in healthcare policy has many unknowns, AccessHealth is working diligently to ensure financial stability and efficiency to manage operations.

“I am pleased to be working with a group of individuals who are mission driven and committed to serving this community,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Dotson said. “The demand for our service continues to grow, and under the leadership of our board of directors, we are planning and preparing ourselves for even more demand in the near future.”

AccessHealth’s A+ Services

AccessHealth’s A+ Services

AccessHealth is a private, not-for-profit organization and Federally Qualified Health Center focusing on providing primary health care services for the uninsured and under-insured population of Fort Bend and Waller counties.  The organization opens its doors to all who wish to receive care without regard to income or circumstance.  AccessHealth’s services include:

Brenda Mallett, RN, CPNP with Javier Salinas.

• Adult Care
• Pediatric Care
• Dental Care
• Women’s Care
• Behavior Health
• Laboratory
• Women, Infant and Children Services • Immunizations
• Pharmacy
• HIV Services
• Hepatitis C Services
• Nutrition Services

For registration information for AccessHealth, call 281.342.4530 or visit www.myaccesshealth.org.