Larry Robins, President and CEO of PediPlace, a free and charitable clinic in North Texas, spoke with All Kids Can about children’s health care needs, the challenges his community faces, and the services PediPlace offers to support local families in need.
PediPlace was recently awarded a $35,000 grant through the CVS Health Foundation, in partnership with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC), as part of a $5 million commitment to help increase access to quality health care nationwide.
All Kids Can: When was PediPlace founded and how has the program grown since then?
Larry Robins: PediPlace was founded in 1992 following a United Way Community Needs Assessment that identified health care as a priority need in our community. Our mission has since been to help make quality health care a reality for kids!
We recently determined that expansion to a second location in northeast Dallas would allow us to significantly increase access to care and further meet the needs of our current patient families traveling from other cities. Our main goal is to continue to increase access to quality health care in the areas that need it most, whether it is through continued expansion in the size and/or number of clinics we offer, or being creative in how and where we provide care, and we were thrilled to officially open our second location in Dallas in December 2013.
AKC: How many children does PediPlace serve each year? Is the number expected to increase in 2015?
Larry: Since opening our doors in Lewisville in 1994, we have provided care to more than 19,000 children living throughout North Texas. In 2013, PediPlace served nearly 6,000 children, and we expect to care for 6,400 children by the end of 2014, and up to 7,000 in 2015.
AKC: What types of services does PediPlace offer for children and their families? How are these services helping children in the local community?
Larry: PediPlace helps children from local, low-income and uninsured families lead healthy and happy lives by providing high-quality, affordable health care options. We provide patients with a friendly and comforting environment for routine visits and immunizations. Our comprehensive services are designed to meet their unique needs and reduce certain language, cultural, and educational challenges that often arise.
AKC: What are the biggest challenges that PediPlace faces as it relates to providing health care services for children in the local community?
Larry: While our costs are lower than other medical providers, health care is still expensive. Some of our biggest challenges revolve around funding operations, maintaining a highly-trained staff, and having the proper staffing levels to meet community needs. We have also had to add focus on ever-changing technological advancements to keep pace with current patient needs, and it’s added to the operational barriers we face as a free and charitable community clinic.
AKC: How has the grant from the CVS Health Foundation supported your organization?
Larry: The grant we received from the CVS Health Foundation directly supports our continued growth and success by providing the funds for an added and extremely talented nurse practitioner at our new Dallas location. At PediPlace, our nurse practitioners provide the vast majority of the primary care services we offer, from assessment and diagnosis, to management of care plans and everything in between. They are our clinic’s version of a PCP at a doctor’s office, and are supervised by our medical director – who has 53 years of pediatric medical practice.
AKC: Do you have any inspirational patient stories that you can share with us that showcase the impact PediPlace has on children in the local community?
Larry: Of course! I have many. Two that immediately come to mind are those of Rojelio, a 13-year-old boy we’ve seen since he was 15-months-old, and Maria, who visited us throughout her childhood, and now aspires to pursue a career in pediatrics as a result of her experience with PediPlace as her local community medical home.
Rojelio was born with a rare form of Hereditary Anemia, which required transfusions every month. In 2012, he received a stem cell transplant from his older brother. In order to not reject the transplant, his bone marrow and entire immune system had to be completely obliterated. Although he received all of his childhood immunizations, his body has no “immune memory” for those vaccines, so he had to restart all of his vaccines over a 12-month period. Since Rojelio no longer qualified for Medicaid due to family reasons, he came to PediPlace where he received all of the vaccines he needed as part of our ‘Vaccines for Children’ program.
And we also recently received this touching note from our former patient, Maria: "I am currently a pre-nursing student and would love to have the opportunity to volunteer at PediPlace. PediPlace is where I would go as a child and now my younger siblings go there. I would love the chance to volunteer since PediPlace helped my family in tough times and made them feel more at ease even if the reason why we were there was serious. PediPlace is really the reason why I decided to go into nursing and hope to work in pediatrics."
Thanks to the support of our community, and partners like the CVS Health Foundation, we are able to provide primary pediatric health care for local children like Rojelio, Maria, and her siblings, who are now thriving in their communities, and empowered to change future lives in Texas.
All Kids Can thanks Larry Robins and PediPlace for their work in the local community, and for serving as an integral piece in CVS Health’s goal to expand access to quality health care nationwide.
As President and CEO of PediPlace, and a professional who has served nonprofit organizations for the past 25 years, Larry is passionate about the role these organizations serve in creating “whole” communities. Collaboratively, nonprofits bring hope to many, and provide vital services that are not only immediately beneficial to those in need, but also help to keep communities strong and vibrant.