Q&A with Alliance Health Centers: Increasing access to OB-GYN care in South East Fort Wayne

Step inside the Lafayette Medical Center in Southeast Fort Wayne, and you’ll find Alliance Health Centers, a nonprofit community health center that opened in December 2020. Since it opened, it’s offered primary and behavioral care. In August, thanks to a collaboration with Parkview Health, it added OB-GYN services to the list.

Parkview is making OB-GYN specialists available, as needed, to staff the clinic. Three midwives also serve the clinic on a part-time basis. Expectant and birthing mothers who are patients at Alliance Health Centers will be able to deliver their babies at Parkview Hospital Randallia

Alliance Health Centers is located at 2700 Lafayette St., #110, inside the Lafayette Medical Center in Southeast Fort Wayne

Whether people are seeking OB-GYN care, primary care, or behavioral care, Alliance has an onsite primary care physician and nurse practitioner, both of whom can meet the needs of a wide variety of patients. The new OB-GYN services are designed to address Northeast Indiana’s high infant and maternal mortality rates, which are among the highest in the nation and state, particularly on Fort Wayne’s South East side.

Input Fort Wayne visited with Alliance Health Centers’s CEO Brooke Lockhart to learn more about the work of Alliance Health Centers. 

Alliance Health Centers’s CEO Brooke Lockhart

IFW: How did you get involved with Alliance Health Centers, and why is its work important to you?

BL: I believe everyone deserves access to healthcare, regardless of their financial situation, geographical situation, whatever their situation is. I don’t provide the care directly, but I really enjoy being behind the scenes and doing what I can to support the team. I know, each day, that each one of them is impacting someone’s life in a positive way and is hopefully increasing patients’ comfort with the healthcare system and confidence in the care they are receiving. I got involved in this field by working at a similar clinic when I lived in the Terre Haute area. I had the privilege of working with a group of three physicians who made it their life’s work to increase access to healthcare, primarily in rural communities, but also at a clinic there locally. I could see through their experiences that a career didn’t have to just be a job; it could be something that’s fulfilling, and I could be part of something bigger. Being at Alliance Health Centers has allowed me to do both. 

Alliance Health Centers is located at 2700 Lafayette St., #110, inside the Lafayette Medical Center in Southeast Fort Wayne

IFW: What is the role of Alliance Health Centers in reducing healthcare disparities in Fort Wayne?

BL: Our role is to create and provide access to care by reducing barriers. We’ve tried to complement existing services in our community, and then we look for gaps and try to fill those gaps where we can. 

Alliance Health Centers offers primary care, behavioral care, and OB-GYN services.

IFW: How can Alliance Health Centers help reduce infant mortality rates in Allen County?

BL: According to the Indiana Department of Health and several resources, one of the main factors impacting infant mortality is access to early prenatal care for the mothers, especially in the first trimester. In August, we were excited to announce the addition of OB-GYN services, including prenatal care, and we’re the only clinic to offer these services in the 46806 ZIP code. We’re trying to be an access point for mothers who might not have otherwise had that care, and we’re thankful to partner with Parkview Health to bring high-quality OB-GYN providers to our clinic for those patients. 

Alliance Health Centers offers primary care, behavioral care, and OB-GYN services.

IFW: In addition to helping expectant and birthing mothers, what else does Alliance Health Centers focus on?

BL: The Alliance Health Centers’s mission is to impact our community by providing access to high-quality, affordable care. We’re focused on serving those who face barriers to care and removing those barriers as much as possible. Our belief is that by providing that access, we can improve the health and quality of life of those we serve. 

As part of this focus, in addition to clinical services, we try to connect our patients with other community resources they might need. We also have onsite assistance with healthcare insurance enrollment, such as Medicaid.  

Alliance Health Centers offers primary care, behavioral care, and OB-GYN services.

IFW: What are some obstacles Alliance faces, and how is your team working to overcome them?

BL: All my leadership experience has primarily been in the nonprofit sector, and resources are always an obstacle, in that you don’t have enough of them, whether it’s financial or otherwise. I have found in my time here, just because it coincided, for better or worse, with the COVID-19 pandemic, that the biggest resource in healthcare is the workforce. We really focus on trying to recruit individuals who are connected and inspired by our mission. When we do that, we have better retention, and we can really see the difference those individuals make. We just constantly try to live our mission and recruit team members who want to walk alongside us. 

Alliance Health Centers offers primary care, behavioral care, and OB-GYN services.

IFW: What else would you like people to know about Alliance Health Centers?

BL: I think, in general, that it’s important for patients in the community to appreciate that Alliance won’t turn any patient away because of an inability to pay. We offer a sliding fee discount for those living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level because we really do want to remove all the barriers we can, including financial. 

Other barriers to care include geographical (distance) and cultural barriers—whether it’s linguistic or just appreciating the distinct characteristics of a person’s culture and respecting that for care. We do our best to break all those down, and we learn every day how to do it better. A lack of transportation is another barrier. Our patients get to us in a variety of ways—bus, walk, friends, their own cars. We also provide bus passes and have a connection with Community Transportation Network. Once patients have connected with us, we try to remove barriers to transportation. 

IFW: What are some of your professional and personal goals?

BL: I like to be continually challenged and inspired in the work I’m doing, and, being here at Alliance, I truly believe we’re creating access to care for people who might otherwise go without it. At the end of the day, I feel good, and my team feels good that we’ve done something to help the community and the patients we’re serving. I am hopeful that Alliance will continue to grow and respond to patients’ needs and do our best for them.

This story was made possible with underwriting from Parkview Health.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by AJ Hughes.