There are lots of reasons why this free standing clinic in Falmouth, Maine is unique and lots to peruse on the True North website! In celebration of their 10 year anniversary, I’d like to focus on 3 in particular!
First, they have a payment system that does NOT rely on health insurance! How exciting is that? This nonprofit model combines a practitioner agreement to reserve a percentage of care for low-income folks, an option of providing community service in exchange for care, and a practice that saves time and money by not engaging in insurance bureaucracy! So the $$$ generated by providing care goes to providing care and helping the community. Hmmmmm!
Second, they utilize a transformational life and leadership process called ‘circles’ that originated from PeerSpirit and ensures a healthy individual and group process where all voices are valued and heard. Their organizational model includes a variety of these ‘circles’ with various goals, membership, and meeting frequency such as;
- Practitioner Circle
- Decision Circle
- Staff Circle
- Research Circle
- Credentialing Circle
You can find a complete list and description of the circles with link to AHRQ Healthcare Innovations write up here. This is a very different approach from the top-down medical model for providing care. From a patient-safety standpoint, it follows the Joint Commissions’ recommendation to flatten the heirarchy! (See the Joint Commission Guide to Improving Staff Communication and note additional recommendations include a assertiveness training and a zero tolerance for abuse.) More and more we realize that collaboration is essential for care and True North has much to share in leading the way!
Third, the history of this organization has its roots in the stuff that healthcare should have its roots in, health and care! Originally, three nurses who had been to a conference were inspired by principals of holistic nursing and convinced hospital leaders at Mercy Hospital of Portland, ME to provide a small grant to explore the possibilities. Weekly meetings including variety of interested people including nuns, janitors, nurses, administrators and kitchen staff emerged and eventually created its own non profit, the Hygeia Foundation which raised the funds to become True North. Hygeia is the name of the Greek goddess of health and healing!
A big warm congratulations to True North and all the people who have been and are co-creating it! Thank you for being a true model of healthcare!