TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries announced Sept. 26 the nonprofit clinic passed its site visit with the Health Resources and Services Administration, the next milestone in TOMAGWA's three-year journey to transitioning to a federally qualified health center eligible for federal funding.

CEO Timika Simmons said in a letter to TOMAGWA's partners that passing the site visit—known as the Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike Operational Site Visit-Initial Designation—means TOMAGWA will receive its official designation status as an FQHC Look-Alike in the next 90 days.

The background

TOMAGWA began the process in 2020 to become an FQHC as the health care nonprofit has struggled to maintain funding to meet growing patient demand.

According to previous reporting, FQHCs are health centers able to receive federal grant funds. Until this point, TOMAGWA has operated as a safety net clinic, relying on private donations to fund its health care services for uninsured and underinsured residents in Tomball, Magnolia and Waller.

TOMAGWA submitted its application May 19 to become an FQHC Look-Alike—which meets the requirements of an FQHC but has not yet received federal funding—Community Impact reported, and HRSA visited the clinic in mid-September as part of the application process.

Diving deeper

TOMAGWA's efforts to become an FQHC receiving federal funding come as the organization has seen increased patient demand. According to the organization:
  • TOMAGWA cares for patients in Montgomery, Harris and Waller counties.
  • 98% of its patients are uninsured.
The number of patients served year over year has increased:
  • 16% for medical services
  • 24% for dental services
  • 65% for pharmacy services
What they're saying

In a letter to partners, Simmons said TOMAGWA was recognized for its commitment to:
  • Compliance with federal regulations, ensuring the highest standards of care
  • Patient-centered care
  • Operational excellence, noting TOMAGWA's operational efficiency
  • Improving health outcomes for underserved populations
"This accomplishment is a testament to the dedication, hard work and expertise of our entire team, including our health care professionals, administrative staff and leadership," Simmons said in the letter. "The FQHC-LAL [site visit] is a rigorous evaluation process that assesses our compliance with federal regulations and standards, ensuring that we continue to provide high-quality, accessible and patient-centered care to our community."

What's next

After receiving its official designation number, Simmons said it will take TOMAGWA another 90 days to transition its operations to begin to see the financial benefits of becoming an FQHC Look-Alike.

According to the letter, as a Look-Alike TOMAGWA will next:
  • Launch the 340b Drug Pricing Program through its pharmacy—which will allow greater discounts on prescriptions for TOMAGWA and its patients
  • Register with Medicaid and Medicare payers to receive higher claim reimbursements
  • Sign up to receive National Health Service Corps support in recruitment and retention of primary care providers
  • Prepare to apply for FQHC grant funding