Raul Vazquez, M.D. - Visionary doctor and founder of GBUAHN heavily focuses on quality care and social aspects of health while keeping an eye costs
Q: We wanted to talk about your work with Medicaid patients over the years.
A: We run what’s called G-Health Enterprises. We created so many groups over the years that it started to almost sound like they were competing with each other, so we put them all under one umbrella, G Health Enterprises. I started out in 1996 opening a private family practice in the inner city, Urban Family Practice. During that time we did great work and, in 2003, built a facility. I’ve been trying to address the social aspects of health since 1996. Transportation, housing, food, those things often interfere with patient care. We built the facility in 2003 to have patients be able to get more services like urgent care, some surgeries, X-rays on site, things we hadn’t been able to do prior to that.
Q: How did you connect with other physicians?
A: From there I identified eight physicians who were kind of safety net physicians in the area and organized them around 2008, 2009. We formed an independent practice association, Buffalo United, and that practice association was a corporate platform under which we could work together. Whenever you have doctors working together on something, there are a lot of legal regulations that can get you into trouble.
The future of health care: Increased cooperation benefits all
Buffalo Business First | August 3, 2018
Executives of four prominent health care organizations in Buffalo see a lot more togetherness when they look down the road to 2023.
That five-year prediction is significant given that Buffalo Medical Group, Erie County Medical Center, G-Health Enterprises and Kaleida Health have competed for patients, providers and innovation.
But cooperation was the sentiment among the four at the Future of Health Care Round Table Discussion held recently at Business First.
Buffalo Medical Group CEO Daniel Scully seemed to capture the executives’ shared view when he said, “I see a stronger partnership with all the players here. Quality and access will only come through stronger partnerships with providers in this community.”
Community-based care strikes at the heart of Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network. In providing care, CEO Dr. Raul Vazquez takes into consideration the impact of patients’ lifestyles and living arrangements. That’s why his practice will send vans to pick up patients, employ navigators to guide patients through the health care system and do remote health monitoring to keep patients, as much as possible, in the lower-cost settings.“You avoid an urgent care visit; you avoid an ER visit. The avoidable ER visits need to go into primary care. It’s all about primary care,” Vazquez said. “If you really want to address the issue, primary care needs to be a player.”
Bridging Buffalo's gap between poverty, health care
The Buffalo News | June 10, 2018
Jesse Cole imagined himself becoming a highly paid physician working in a fancy hospital, just like those featured on television shows.
"That would be my career," said Cole, who was raised in suburban Maryland and came to Buffalo to study medicine.
But his thinking shifted.
Why? Because of the semester he and 13 fellow students at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences spent in one of Buffalo's poorest neighborhoods.
Through the fledgling Health in the Neighborhood course, first-year students experienced life in an underdeveloped, mostly black community. Their firsthand look at housing blight, economic challenges, limited access to grocery stores – coupled with health inequities and disparities – resonated deeply as they train to become the next generation of doctors.
Just months after the groundbreaking of the $6-million facility on Niagara Street, Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network CEO Dr. Raul Vazquez seems pleased with the success doctors, nurses, specialists and care coordinators are having at touching the lives of patients who otherwise might fall between the cracks, lost to addiction or disease.
The approximately 200 staff members employed at GBUAHN are proud of the new four-story building, eager to show off its labyrinth of corridors, call centers, consultation rooms and offices. This place has become not just a job opportunity, they say, but a source of pride on Buffalo’s West Side. And they’re eager to tell the stories of success and thanks they’ve seen and heard firsthand in treating the area’s Medicaid participants as a Lead Health Home.
Not one to sit still, Vazquez knows the progress made addressing healthcare for Buffalo’s urban populations is only just beginning. And largely through his own funding, he’s ready to think big.
“I would rather wear that hat than have somebody else wear it for me,” Vazquez, a Bronx native and University at Buffalo Medical School graduate, says.
Since the grand opening of its new Lower West Side facility in September 2017, Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN) has been growing by leaps and bounds. As of Friday, February 1 of this year, the healthcare network has enrolled a whopping 8000 members.
The incredible growth is being attributed to myriad factors. Not only did GBUAHN build state of the art facilities, the Lower West Side campus is also conveniently located in a neighborhood that serves its primary client base. GBUAHN’s new multi-million dollar medical facility at 505 7th Street (learn more), is located directly behind 564 Niagara Street, Building 2.
GBUAHN acknowledges that its continued growth is partially due to its convenient location. But it also states that its clients appreciate the effort that goes into helping them to navigate the oft-complex Medicaid system. GBUAHN has also been making significant strides in ensuring that its patients have access to maintenance care for chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. With the help of dietitians, and other health oriented resources, the goal is to keep patients healthy, rather than seeing them rolling through the door for emergency visits. The result from all of these initiatives is a tripling of size of the healthcare network over the last five years.
Urban Family Practice opened its second location Monday at 1315 Jefferson Ave. in the former location of the University at Buffalo Family Medicine Clinic, filling a gap in basic medical services left by the recent closure of several offices.
Last June, 7,000 patients, mainly East Side residents, received a letter stating that UB Family Medicine was closing its primary care clinic on Jefferson Avenue because of difficulties recruiting physicians to the practice to supervise the training of residents there.
Dr. Raul Vazquez, chief executive officer of Urban Family Practice on Niagara Street, purchased the clinic site. The new Jefferson Avenue Urban Family Practice will be operated by Dr. Chet Fox, a former professor at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences who used to work at the clinic.