Overview & History

The story of the Primary Care Coalition began in 1993, when a group of physicians and health care officials imagined a Montgomery County where every resident had access to high-quality health services. They envisioned a dependable source of primary care for low-income, uninsured individuals in our community and created a framework that shared the responsibility for providing that care across the public and private sectors. The Primary Care Coalition (PCC) was formed to help make their vision a reality.

  • The PCC formed under the leadership of Carol Garvey, M.D. and Horace Bernton, M.D.

    Early collaborators included the Montgomery County Medical Society, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, five county hospitals, and a host of individual health care providers and community organizations.

  • November – The PCC submits articles of incorporation.

  • First funding arranged in the amount of $ 6,500.

    Co-founders Carol Garvey, M.D. and Horace Bernton, M.D., organized a Montgomery County Medical Society Talent Show, which raised $ 6, 500 to benefit the PCC. Community Clinic, Inc. donated an additional $1,000, and the PCC became operational.

  • First grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

    The PCC was awarded a one-year planning grant, with an option of an additional two years, to support Project Access, a pro-bono specialty care referral network administered by the PCC.

  • Steve Galen hired to lead the PCC.

    In early 1997, PCC Board Chair Horace Bernton, recognized the need for a professional staff person to lead the organization. He identified Steve Galen, an experienced hospital administrator, who had joined the Board in 1995 and has served as Executive Director since 1997.

  • Pharmacy benefits program established.

    The PCC formed a Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, which developed a list of the most commonly needed medications available at minimal cost to low-income, uninsured patients through most retail pharmacies.

    The PCC becomes administrator for Care for Kids.

    The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services asked the PCC to administer the Care for Kids Program, which was originally established in the early 1990s to provide primary care to Medicaid-ineligible children in the County.

  • CHLCare, an electronic medical record, deployed.

    CHLCare is an open-source, shared, web-based electronic medical record developed by PCC. Early PCC goals, including the development of CHLCare, expansion of Project Access, and cultural and linguistic competency building, were funded by a Community Access Program grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

  • Mary C. Jackson Award established.

    Mary Jackson served as Assistant Executive Director from 1998 until her death in October 2002. To honor her life and her lifelong commitment to helping others in need of basic mental and physical health care, her family established the Mary C. Jackson “Good Works, Done Well” Endowment Fund. Each year, a committee selects one community member and one PCC-affiliated individual to receive the award for contributions to the health and welfare of vulnerable county residents. Since its establishment, it has been supported and supplemented by her family, friends, and colleagues.

  • Community Pharmacy formed.

    The PCC developed the Community Pharmacy Program, a pre-packaged, pre-labeled, point-of-service dispensing system which allows clinic providers to dispense medication to patients at their clinic encounters. The Pharmacy and Therapeutic Committee continues to provide professional oversight of Community Pharmacy policy and formulary development.

    AHRQ Award.

    The PCC was awarded one of 14 prestigious national AHRQ grants to explore issues and challenges of establishing Health Information Exchanges for low-income, uninsured, safety-net patients and clinics in a complex regional setting.

  • Montgomery Cares established.

    Montgomery County leaders envisioned a county with universal access to care and health equity among its diverse communities. The PCC was integral in the planning and launch of Montgomery Cares, a public-private partnership designed to provide primary health care to the county’s low-income, uninsured residents. Montgomery Cares began with six established community-based, safety-net clinics and two clinics specifically established to address health disparities by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services for racial and ethnic minorities.

  • Quality Health Improvement Committee established.

    First funded by a grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the QHIC is composed of clinic medical directors and quality improvement experts. The committee developed performance measures, clinical standards, and accountability processes for Montgomery Cares clinics. The Committee reviews quality metrics quarterly and publishes an annual performance report card on selected measures.

    Montgomery Cares Behavioral Health Program launched.

    The PCC partnered with Georgetown University Department of Community Psychiatry, Holy Cross Hospital, and Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services to establish the first integrated Behavioral Health/Primary Care service in Montgomery County, through Montgomery Cares.

    Oral health services introduced.

    Spanish Catholic Center (SCC) provided the expertise to establish an oral health service one day per week in shared clinic space provided by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. With Montgomery Cares seed money, SCC was able to raise the additional funds necessary to build out a state-of-the-art dental facility in Wheaton.

  • Quality improvement through Office Practice Re-design.

    The PCC adopts the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Model for Improvement and selected two clinics to participate in IHI’s yearlong Office Practice Redesign Collaborative. Princeton 55 Fellowship. The PCC welcomed the first of five consecutive Princeton 55 fellows to work with staff on health improvement projects within Montgomery Cares. Governor’s Taskforce for Electronic Health Records. The PCC was privileged to represent the interests of safety-net clinics and low-income, uninsured patients on the Maryland Governor’s Task Force to Study Electronic Health Records. Susan G. Komen for the Cure partnership begins. 2007 saw the beginning of an ongoing relationship with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to improve access to high quality breast health care for low-income, uninsured women. A number of other foundations and individual donors also supported PCC’s work in this area. IHI Triple Aim collaborative begins. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) invited PCC to join the inaugural group of 15 organizations from different nations brought together to refine the Triple Aim Initiative that seeks to improve the health of a defined population, improve the patient experience of care, and reduce the per capita cost of providing services. The PCC subsequently adopted the Triple Aim goals as its own.

  • Meyer Exponent Award presented.

    The Meyer Foundation selected PCC President and CEO, Steve Galen, to receive the prestigious Exponent Award for his visionary community leadership and dedication to organizational improvement.

    New efforts to increase access to specialty care.

    The PCC, the Montgomery Cares Advisory Board, and representatives from all five Montgomery County hospitals collaborate to increase access to specialty care services for uninsured county residents. The partnership resulted in an almost threefold increase in the value of donated hospital services provided to Montgomery Cares patients through Project Access between 2008 and 2012.

    Access to care for limited English speaking communities.

    The PCC initiated a partnership with the Adventist HealthCare Center on Health Disparities to offer language interpretation and cultural competency training to clinic staff to ensure access to health services for limited English speaking, multi-cultural communities.

    Emergency Department to Primary Care Connect.

    The PCC was awarded a significant two-year grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services through the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to implement a comprehensive, integrated, coordinated approach to reduce "avoidable" emergency department visits by uninsured and Medicaid-insured Montgomery County residents.

    NPower Technology Innovation Award.

    The PCC receives one of two 2009 NPower Greater DC Region Technology Innovation Awards, presented by Accenture. The PCC was recognized for developing and open-source, web-based IT infrastructure to facilitate systems integration across independent health care entities.

  • HRSA Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative.

    The PCC joined this national initiative designed to improve health care quality and outcomes through the integration of evidence-based clinical pharmacy services within inter-professional health care teams. The PCC-led team focused on optimizing therapeutic outcomes, patient care quality, and safe medication use through HRSA Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative. Collaborators included Mercy Clinic, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Maryland Pharmacist Association, ALFA Specialty Pharmacy, and the Delmarva Foundation.

  • Bank of America Award.

    The Bank of America Charitable Foundation presented the PCC its prestigious "2010 Greater Washington Neighborhood Builders" Award.

    RAND Corporation evaluation of Montgomery Cares.

    According to evaluations conducted by the RAND Corporation from 2007 through 2010, Montgomery Cares patients reported increasingly high levels of satisfaction with Montgomery Cares services and cited significant improvements in access and capacity over time. More than 90 percent of patients were satisfied or very satisfied with services.

    Kaiser Permanente funding for Community Forums on Health Reform.

    Recognizing the potential positive impact of the Affordable Care Act, the PCC, the Montgomery County Executive, the Montgomery County Council Health and Human Services Committee, and the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services co-sponsored the first of two symposia on Health Reform and Montgomery County. Kaiser Permanente provided funding for these successful forums.

  • A new strategy focused on the future.

    The PCC Board of Directors Strategic Planning Committee led the organization through an intense strategic planning process.

    Patient Centered Medical Homes.

    The PCC received a CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield award to work with two clinics to develop intensive care management with attributes of patient-centered medical homes for patients with multiple chronic conditions.

    CMS Innovation Advisors Program.

    PCC Director of Medicine Access, Rosemary Botchway was selected to participate in the first cohort of the new CMS Innovation Advisors Program. This prestigious program offered six months of intensive training, followed by six months of project development, peer review, and critique by the Advisors Innovation Improvement Project.

  • State evaluation of Emergency Department to Primary Care (ED-PC) Connect.

    The State of Maryland conducted an independent evaluation of the PCC led ED-PC Connect project that started in 2008 and found that during the three-year period of the project there was a 30 percent reduction in “avoidable” emergency department visits and a $1.1 million savings to the health care system.

    Carol Wilson Garvey Award for exceptional non-profit board leadership.

    Dr. Garvey's distinguished career and her commitment to the PCC led the Board of Directors to establish an annual award in her name. The Carol Wilson Garvey Award for Exceptional Non-profit Board Leadership will be given annually to a board member of a Montgomery County nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable county residents.

  • Electronic Health Record

    With funding from Kaiser Permanente, the Healthcare Initiative Foundation, the Consumer Health Foundation, Adventist Healthcare, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, and others, the PCC provided technical support and guidance to eight Montgomery Cares clinics and the Teen and Young Adult Health Connection (TAYA) of Silver Spring as they transitioned to a new electronic health record. The new system has the capacity to meet meaningful use standards, comes with a host of other important functions, and promotes sharing of clinical information among providers.

    PCC's role in Affordable Care Act implementation

    The Primary Care Coalition was named as the Performance Manager on the Capital Region Connector Program being run by Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of the Connector Program is to assist Maryland residents in enrolling into qualified health plans and Medicaid through the Maryland Health Connection, the state-based insurance marketplace. As Performance Manager the PCC will oversee, monitor, evaluate, and continuously seek to improve the work of community partners participating in the Connector Program, and ultimately help uninsured Montgomery and Prince George's County residents gain access to health care.

    PCC Celebrates 20th Anniversary

    Dr. Horace (Bud) Bernton, Dr. Carol Garvey, and Dr. Bill Flynt re-unite at the 20th Anniversary Celebration

    Dr. Horace (Bud) Bernton, Dr. Carol Garvey, and Dr. Bill Flynt re-unite at the 20th Anniversary Celebration.

  • Primary Care Coalition Names Leslie Graham As New CEO

    The Board of Directors of Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County (PCC) has announced the appointment of Leslie Graham to be their next President and CEO. Ms. Graham will succeed Steve Galen, who is retiring after leading PCC since 1997.

    Ms. Graham currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care where she developed a roll out strategy for the Health Benefits Exchange assistor program for the State of Delaware. She managed a variety of other population health and quality improvement initiatives. Prior to her tenure at the Delmarva Foundation, Ms. Graham served as the Chief Operating Officer for the PCC.

    “I am excited to return to PCC and its mission,” said Ms. Graham. “Improving the quality, efficacy and value of health systems for vulnerable populations has been the focus of my career. I am honored by the opportunity to lead PCC and build upon the solid foundation laid by Steve Galen.”

    To replace its founding CEO, the PCC Board of Directors conducted an extensive, nationwide search, receiving over 160 applications. After interviewing 8 semi-finalists, the selection process identified 3 outstanding individuals as finalists. PCC Board members, PCC staff members, and community stakeholders interviewed each of the finalists.

    Founding CEO Steve Galen strongly endorsed the selection of Ms. Graham, saying she is an outstanding leader with deep knowledge of the needs of vulnerable residents, PCC, and Montgomery County. “I’m delighted with the selection of Leslie who has the skills and experience to lead the PCC though its next stage of organizational growth and development,” said Galen, “I know PCC will be in good hands.”

    This leadership transition occurs at a time of transformation in the health care environment. The PCC is pleased to welcome a new leader with Ms. Graham’s background. She brings extensive experience leading healthcare organizations as well as a true passion for PCC’s mission of providing access to quality health care for underserved individuals.

    “We are very confident in this decision,” said Dick Bohrer, the Coalition’s Board Chair. “During the search process, we met with several remarkable individuals. Ms. Graham is not only the best of the candidates interviewed, but she meets the ultimate standard of being the ideal individual to succeed Steve Galen who has led the PCC for 18 years.”

  • Nexus Montgomery Forms. PCC Named as Management Entity.

    The Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC)  awarded $7.6 million to the Nexus Montgomery Regional Partnership—a collaborative effort among the six hospitals operating in Montgomery County—to implement or expand initiatives that will improve the health status of those most at risk of avoidable hospital use. The members of the Nexus Montgomery Regional Partnership are Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, Holy Cross Hospital, Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, Suburban Hospital and Washington Adventist Hospital. In partnership with the hospitals, local nonprofit organizations will implement most of the community-based programs. These non-profits include The Coordinating Center, Cornerstone Montgomery, and the Primary Care Coalition (PCC). The PCC will also be the management entity for the Nexus Montgomery Regional Partnership.  

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