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70% of patients at Tepeyac clinic are uninsured: "That became a major concern for us"

Tepeyac clinic serves more patients without insurance
Tepeyac clinic serves more patients without insurance 02:40

On 48th Avenue and Vine Street stands Tepeyac's newest community health center. The clinic opened its doors last February after years in the works.

Jim Garcia, CEO and founder of the Tepeyac Community Health Center, says the clinic has grown in a huge way over the years and this space was needed to continue to service more patients. 

"Our previous clinic was about 6,000 square feet. Now, we are closer to 25,000 square feet, so it's four times the size," said Garcia.

Inside the state-of-the-art clinical facility, there is a dental clinic, a mental health clinic, and even a pharmacy where hundreds of patients get their prescriptions. 

"There's not a pharmacy in this area and so being able to offer a pharmacy that's available not only to Tepeyac patients but also to the broader community, is meeting a huge need in this community," said Garcia.


Though their new clinic offers a variety of services, the bigger the clinic means more patients. 

"Just within a year, we've already increased our capacity by 47% and about 2,500 more patients," said Garcia.

The clinic serves as an important safety net provider for underserved communities in Denver, specifically for those in the Globeville-Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. 

It helps meet the health care needs of residents regardless of their insurance status. Even as the number of patients without insurance at their clinic increases, the health center finds ways to make it work.

"We become very creative, we rely on the revenue that we receive from sources like Medicaid as a critical source of revenue for us and private insurance," said Garcia.

With only 15% of their patients on Medicaid, this has been difficult for the clinic to rely on lately. 

At least 800 to 1,000 of the clinic's patients were disenrolled from Medicaid coverage after the COVID-19 public health emergency ended last year and eligibility reviews resumed.

"Every dollar that we receive through Medicaid helps us to provide services to patients that are also uninsured," said Garcia.

The clinic is not the only health center dealing with this. Within the past year, 500,000 people in Colorado were disenrolled from Medicaid due to no longer meeting eligibility criteria. 

Garcia says he noticed this last year, and it became more apparent as the number of patients without Medicaid increased.


"That became a major concern for us," said Garcia. "To make sure that we understood what the issue was and make sure that our patients understand what they're eligible for."

The state says it's important to update mailing addresses and be aware of re-enrollment requirements and deadlines.

The clinic relies on revenue from sources like Medicaid, private insurance, and donations to help offset the cost of providing care to uninsured patients. 

For uninsured patients, the clinic provides services on a sliding scale to ensure everyone in the community can access affordable quality health care.

"People that come to us with private insurance really help us to be able to offset the cost of services," said Garcia.

He adds community and private donors have been generous over the years and provide support.

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