Evergreen Health leader talks about the organization’s acquisition of Aspire of WNY and plans for future expansion within the healthcare industry
By Brenda Alesii
When Evergreen Health launched nearly 40 years ago, the agency was synonymous with a health crisis that few people understood and many feared. In 1983, Evergreen Health started as a response to people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. In the early days, the agency’s objective was to help people, stricken with what was then a little-known disease, die with dignity.
Once an effective drug therapy turned HIV and AIDS from a death sentence to a disease an individual manages, Evergreen shifted its focus. Agency representatives said patients still sought their services, needing help with everything from obesity to drug use to challenges faced by people of color.
Now Evergreen Health is an important cog in the health care wheel throughout the region. With an emphasis on healthy communities, Evergreen provides medical, supportive, and behavioral services to individuals and families in Western New York, especially those who are living with chronic illness or who are underserved by the healthcare system.
Raymond Ganoe, president and CEO of Evergreen Health, recently announced a new acquisition and a partnership that will widen the agency’s service base.
Ganoe, a West Seneca native and 30-year veteran of the health care business, is excited to partner with Aspire of WNY and the acquisition of Aspire’s Article 28 Primary Care Clinic. Aspire of WNY, founded 74 years ago, supports children and adults with developmental and similar disabilities.
Q. What attracted you to Aspire of WNY?
A. Aspire of WNY has a long history of providing critical services to the people in our community who need them the most. We have a similarity in our corporate cultures of respect, love, and dignity for our patients. We want to address their needs and elevate individuals out of poverty. Our agencies have that same goal for patients who have different needs. Once aligned in that way, things click into place. We are committed to providing judgment-free affirming care and I’m thrilled to welcome another new group of patients to the Evergreen family.
Q. You oversee a $120 million budget. How does growth impact the bottom line?
A. This is the second growth opportunity this year. Evergreen is a federally qualified health center look-alike entity, which provides with 340 B pharmacy services and better reimbursement rates. With these better rates and reimbursements, it allows us to reinvest in our programming. These types of acquisitions, combined with the needs of our patients, allows us to work outside the box, creating programs that result in healthier outcomes.
Q. Where can people access those Aspire of WNY services?
A. We will provide primary care and podiatry services at Aspire’s Health Care Center located at 7 Community Drive in Cheektowaga. We will provide both services at that location in the first quarter of 2022. Due to unsustainable reimbursement rates, Aspire of WNY will end operations at the Primary Care Clinic.
One of the advantages of this collaboration is offering patients the same quality care from the same providers. Renee Filip, my counterpart at Aspire of WNY, and I have the same goal: we are in it for the patients. As Renee noted, the sustainability of services and improved patient outcomes are driving factors in this partnership, a great example of how different entities can come together to do what’s right for patients.
Q. How broad is your coverage area and how will your staff expand?
A. We will have 12 different sites in eight Western New York counties. After the partnerships are completed, our staff will grow to 500 employees.
In addition, we will be opening a new primary care site at 1870 Hertel Ave. in Buffalo on Oct. 1. This is part of our partnership, announced last February, with People Inc., an agency with roots similar to ours.
It will be owned and operated by People Inc. Evergreen will lease space and operate our new primary care clinic (Article 28 space) within this new North Buffalo health center. There will also be separate areas for other People Inc. services, including rehabilitation and mental health counseling. To offer even more services to our ECMC will be located there as well.
Q. Do you foresee more acquisitions in the future?
A. Yes, to be continued.