In December 2017, Wahiawā Center for Community Health, also known as Wahiawā Health, received designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) serving Wahiawā, Waialua, Kunia and Mililani. Wahiawā Health provides the underserved communities of Central Oahu with a single point of access to affordable, high-quality health care and wellness services. The FQHC provides services to everyone, regardless of ability to pay, and offers a sliding fee scale that is based on family income. As a nonprofit community clinic, Wahiawā Health caters especially to the needs of Medicare and Medicaid patients whom private doctors typically do not serve. Today Wahiawā Health has over 50 staff (on-site and remote) and strives to reach more people with the critical health services the community needs.
“ProService is a powerful partner. When HR challenges arise, I’m confident that ProService will help identify solutions and give me access to specialized experts. They are always right there, providing consistent support as our organizational needs change.” – Bev Harbin, CEO
By January 2020, after three years of intense start-up, Wahiawā Health had built momentum and was prepared for growth. But in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began to severely impact communities in Hawaii which created additional challenges for Wahiawā Health. Health care and the way providers delivered services to patients changed rapidly as COVID-19 cases increased throughout Hawaii. Wahiawā Health had to adapt quickly to be able to continue providing access to affordable, quality health care.
Bev Harbin, CEO, shifted face-to-face patient visits to telehealth appointments for family medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, behavioral health and counseling. This was a big adjustment in the delivery of patient care. As these changes were implemented, and staff members were affected significantly, Bev realized the need to re-establish Wahiawā Health’s internal culture of teamwork, while staying focused on expanding the nonprofit’s services to ensure Wahiawā Health could fulfill its mission to the community in its critical time of need.
As these internal changes took place in spring 2020, Bev turned to her ProService team for trustworthy strategic business counsel and advice about her staff and operations as she approached big, organization-wide decisions. ProService helped Bev strategically restructure her leadership team, build capacity to quickly hire and onboard new staff, and grow its revenue from state and federal grants to provide the services the community needed during and after the pandemic.
As a result, the number of patients Wahiawā Health is serving has nearly rebounded to pre-COVID record highs, and the organization has turned the corner to show a profit.
“We’re seeing positive growth and are ready to take our nonprofit community health center to the next level. With ProService, we’re building critical infrastructure and capacity to tackle our goals,” said Bev. “The growth we’ve had to date has been in part due to the counsel and support of ProService who helped us strategically work through our people-operations to maximize growth and organizational effectiveness,” she added.
Acknowledging the new C-level leaders’ excellent technical skills and functional credentials, Bev and ProService collaborated to restructure the leadership team based on the strengths and unique skills of each member.
“ProService helped me create an incredibly effective team that combined the clinical expertise of our medical experts with the federal risk and compliance expertise of my COO. Now I have a team of ‘chiefs’ who are working together. The quality of their collective decision-making gives me confidence to take on innovations in telehealth, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations that would have been challenging to do previously.”
According to Bev, most independent community clinics like Wahiawā Health lack the specialized expertise or capacity to comply with rigorous protocols to offer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
“Our ‘chiefs’ put a rigorous plan together,” she said. “They mapped out all the protocols and emergency contingencies and figured out ways to ensure safety and compliance so that we could vaccinate up to 500 people a day,” said Bev. “Today our ‘chiefs’ are thrilled with their roles. Most importantly, we have rebuilt leadership-staff communication and collaboration. Decisions are getting executed cleaner and faster. Everyone is taking more ownership, and leaders and staff have a level of exuberance and pride like never before.”
“As a result of ProService’s guidance with forming this special leadership team, we were able to mobilize and provide our community with COVID-19 testing and vaccinations in a timely manner.” – Bev Harbin, CEO
The expansion into telehealth and the need to expand capacity to serve the community has required additional space. Wahiawā Health is leading the industry in the quality and scope of what the patient and doctor can do together virtually. Using innovations in patient-doctor video communication equipment, they are able to offer more community members complex tests, analyses and consultations with highly trained doctors virtually – on procedures not previously considered possible virtually such as dermatology exams and even EKGs.
“It’s a cutting-edge approach and the best way we could expand the clinic to serve a huge local need despite the physical space limitations of our clinic,” said Bev.
To support this expanded telehealth strategy, Wahiawā Health needed to aggressively hire more staff. Bev’s ProService team built a scalable and seamless system for hiring, recruiting, and onboarding new employees. This included cross-training and promoting Bev’s administrative assistant to manage their new recruitment and onboarding process.
“Now we can efficiently interview candidates, generate an offer letter, and notify ProService who handles all the new hire welcome packet, paperwork and the rest of the administration. The result is that our new hires have a great onboarding experience and when they show up on day one, they understand our process and know exactly what to do.”
Today ProService continues to coach Bev’s staff on hiring best practices such as writing effective job descriptions and interviewing for positions requiring the critical combination of technical expertise and emotional warmth.
“ProService helped me improve the way we recruit, hire and onboard new employees,” said Bev. “Now that we have a new, clear process, my team is able to hire high-quality people. I’m so confident in my team that I can be hands-off and let them handle it with the guidance provided by ProService.”
Importantly, because Wahiawā Health’s hiring needs are so specialized and acute, and supported by their new telehealth capabilities, Bev’s team is now aggressively hiring highly trained medical providers both in-state and on the mainland. Bev’s team can confidently do this because ProService manages all the requirements of their diverse, multi-state workforce including the unique state-by-state health care, workers’ comp, tax and legal requirements for out-of-state employees, while helping facilitate the state-level registration requirements for the nonprofit business entity.
“Today our hiring and onboarding process is much smoother due to the collaboration between ProService and my team,” said Bev. “As a result, we have been able to hire more people with excellent qualifications.” – Bev Harbin, CEO
Bev’s aggressive efforts to increase their federal and state grants have been critical to bringing Wahiawā Health to profitability as well as fund strategic investments in their innovative programs, equipment and people to fuel their growth. At any given time, Wahiawā Health can be managing more than 10 active grants. With the support they receive from ProService’s flexible payroll reporting capabilities, Bev’s team is able to manage and report each grant’s unique, detailed requirements to ensure consistent cash flow from existing grants and qualification for future grants.
“The team at ProService set up a payroll process that makes it really easy for our grant managers,” said Bev. “They generate all the payroll data and the specific reports we need to access our funding and to stay compliant with our government grantors,” she added. “We don’t have to spend hours and hours digging through our payroll records looking for data. ProService does it for us.”
“So many organizations don’t apply for government grants because documenting payroll compliance can be complicated. With ProService, we don’t have this worry.” – Bev Harbin, CEO