The 504HealthNet is a community-based coalition of 23 organizations that operate predominantly in the greater New Orleans area. Organizations within this coalition serve patients regardless of an ability to pay.
“So, it’s saying we’re gonna take care of everyone in our community regardless if they’re insured, uninsured, underinsured, on Medicaid, and saying we really do have a dedicated mission to making sure that everyone in our community can receive primary care and behavioral health services,” says executive director Susan Todd.
Todd says 504HealthNet started after Hurricane Katrina to be the policy voice for primary care and behavioral health in a community-based setting. “So afterwards when people were thinking how do we rebuild Charity [Hospital], how do we rebuild our healthcare system, there was a big movement to say, ‘Hey we also need clinics in our neighborhoods,’” Todd says. “Prior to Katrina, we really only had one federally qualified health center or one place that would serve everyone regardless of ability to pay. And now we actually have 60 sites in the greater New Orleans region.”
One example is the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, which provides medical care to musicians and performing artists like William Horsburgh.
“I’ve been a musician on and off most of my life. Things happen where I lost my insurance. You know, due to circumstances. I moved here in 2008 and found out about this place through friends that I met. It’s been a lifesaver. I mean, I don’t know what else I can tell you about it,” says Horsburgh.
“The musicians’ clinic is unique because of its dedication to specifically serve musicians and artists in the area. And I think that they have a very proactive mission in saying that we need to care for people who are traditionally not thought of as a group when you look at reaching out for health care services,” says Todd.
“You have providers that are sensitive to issues around musicians and their lifestyle. And thinking about things like their feet when they’re marching in parades, and looking at all of the miles that are put on their feet during Mardi Gras time. And thinking about issues that are specific to artists, to dancers, to musicians,” says Todd. “I think they’re special in their approach, in their inclusive approach. They are focused on a specific component of our culture and people who make our city what it is.”