With 30 years of history in the Tampa Bay area, Metro Inclusive Health is certainly no stranger to the challenges of addressing healthcare equity in the midst of regional growth. Today the locally-based not-for-profit healthcare organization announced an ambitious plan to increase healthcare equity by re-distributing operations located at St. Petersburg and Tampa centers over six full-service satellite locations offering over 100 health and social services identified as high demand and high need.
The move will expand the organization’s reach from four locations to eight, including two existing satellite health centers in Clearwater and New Port Richey.
“Ninety-percent of patients receive more than one service at METRO,” said Priya Rajkumar, Co- CEO and future CEO of Metro Inclusive Health. “These moves will create substantial annual cost savings that can be redirected towards providing services to the community while also contributing to the financial longevity of the organization.”
Citing population growth, hybrid work schedules and commuter times, the 501(c)3 non-profit healthcare organization has been studying patient demographic patterns from as far back as 2019. In 2021 and 2022, the organization experienced explosive growth with patients traveling from all corners of the region including as far as Lakeland and south of the Skyway. In 2022, it touched 30,711 lives in the Tampa Bay area, up from 26,997 in 2021 and subsidized nearly $60,000 in transportation for medical appointments in 2022.
“As the region grows, it’s clear that insured and uninsured patients will make the trip for access to quality inclusive healthcare,” said Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer Brian Bailey, who initiated the concept of shifting the agency towards a regional model. “Based on data, we immediately saw a need to get back to METRO’s roots by focusing on putting community healthcare back into more communities.”
“At METRO, insured and uninsured patients go hand-in-hand,” Bailey continued.
Through its Copay it Forward program, insured patients provide free access to care to those without insurance just by getting their prescriptions filled by a METRO partner pharmacy. In 2022, that program accounted for $660,450 in free healthcare to individuals without insurance.
According to the most recent Census data, nearly 13% of Hillsborough residents and 14% of Pinellas residents had no form of health insurance– A number that’s expected to grow as population increases and particularly if the economy heads into recession. With industry trends and big box brands expanding into community healthcare, METRO understands that destination community health centers are no longer the most effective way to reach patients in a modern-day Tampa Bay.
Four new locations have been identified thus far in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Brandon, with construction underway on the first. The moves are expected to create significant annual cost savings that can then be redirected towards providing services to the community. Additional locations are also in development. No reduction in staff is expected as the organization continues to hire for a number of positions.
“This gives us the huge opportunity to bring what has made Metro Inclusive Health so special for so many years to more of Tampa Bay,” said Lorraine Langlois, Co-CEO who is retiring at the end of the year after 30 years of service to METRO. “I’m delighted to see this organization once again innovating to meet the health equity needs of our community. Our team is the best and brightest of the industry.”
Metro Inclusive Health is a not-for-profit Federally Qualified Health Center lookalike founded in 1992 with one service, HIV Case Management. Today the organization offers over 100 combined services and touches nearly 30,000 annually. With a focus on LGBTQ+ health and wellness, along with onsite labs and pharmacies, 90% of patients receive more than one service at METRO.
In addition to accepting most insurances including Medicare and Medicaid, the organization offers a sliding scale fee to uninsured patients based on proof of income. Supported by the Copay it Forward program, insured patients subsidized $660,450 in free healthcare to uninsured members of the community in 2022.
Founded in 1992, Metro Inclusive Health continues to lead the market as a one-stop primary care, behavioral health, pediatric and HIV services provider at the forefront of LGBTQ+ health. Innovations include access to PrEP in 30 minutes, same day STI testing, rapid fourth generation HIV testing and uniquely providing both primary care and HIV care together for the most advanced and holistic approach for those living with HIV. Learn more at metrotampabay.org.