Today, the University of Utah, in partnership with the state of Utah, celebrated the opening of the University of Utah Population Health Center in Rose Park. After more than 35 years of seeing some of Utah’s most vulnerable patients, the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Health Clinics of Utah (HCU) transitioned its Rose Park location to University of Utah Health to open the new center.
“To become a top 10 university with unsurpassed societal impact, we have to develop programs that create healthier lives for all Utahns; the Population Health Center is an incredible example of this work,” said Taylor Randall, President of the University of Utah. “Now, in Rose Park, we are delivering patient-centered care and services that are vital and affordable to populations of patients who need care the most. Our partnership with the state of Utah is critical as we seek to innovate care delivery and lower the overall cost.”
With the transition, the Population Health team will assume the care of nearly 2,000 existing patients and use the space for a primary and behavioral health clinic and a Newcomer Health Clinic that will provide 75% of the state’s refugee screenings. Patients at the Center will also benefit from integrated oral health and mental health services. This new location will expand the Intensive Outpatient Clinic (IOC) for patients with chronic and difficult-to-treat physical and behavioral health conditions.
The IOC employs an integrated care model that brings a team of health care professionals together to focus on the unique needs of Medicaid members. This patient-centered care has been shown to improve patient outcomes and save significant costs due to fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations. At the new Population Health Center, the team is building on the success of the IOC and continuing to pilot new clinical models that reduce costs. The goal is to expand these innovations throughout the U of U Health system and across the state.
“I am beyond thrilled to see and support University of Utah Health’s continued commitment to evolving our traditional health care system to improve outcomes and decrease the cost of care for all Utahns,” said Governor Spencer J Cox. “The Population Health Center fully embodies the vision of the One Utah Health Collaborative and will help Utah become a national leader in health care innovation over the next 15 years.”
Governor Cox commended the Population Health Center, highlighting the IOC clinic as proof of its innovation. The center's opening aligns with the goals of the One Utah Health Collaborative, which aims to make Utah a national leader in cost-efficient health care.
Adolphus Nickelberry, a patient at the IOC, shared his inspiring story during the celebration. He candidly spoke about his years of struggling with addiction, incarceration, and homelessness. He was finally able to seek help at the IOC.
“I was tired of feeling so bad, so alone. I wanted to feel safe and cared for,” explained Nickleberry. “I wanted to see my daughter and grandkids again; the people at the Intensive Outpatient Clinic seemed serious about helping me get my life back.”
Nickleberry’s story exemplifies the benefits of long-term medical and mental health care tailored to the individual needs of traditionally marginalized and often difficult-to-treat patients. This model of care builds relationships with patients and enhances their overall quality of life.
“Health care in the US is complex–there is no better place to receive the most technologically advanced care in the world. However, there are also deep challenges like poor access and escalating costs,” said Gina Hawley, COO University of Utah Health Hospitals and Clinics. “The Population Health Center represents a new way of caring for our community, one that treats not just the symptoms that are easy to see, but also a patient’s underlying problems.”