The purpose of the Primary Care Office (PCO) is to improve access to primary care services and increase health care workforce availability to meet the needs of Ohio's underserved communities.
The purpose of the Primary Care Office (PCO) is to improve access to primary care services and increase health care workforce availability to meet the needs of Ohio's underserved communities. Areas of need are identified through the PCO's coordination of the federal designation process for Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/P). These designations are required for health care providers to apply for federal and state recruitment/retention programs as well as Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) funding.
To inform its work, the PCO is charged with preparing a Statewide Primary Care Needs Assessment. The goal of the assessment is to identify Ohio communities with the greatest unmet healthcare needs, disparities, health workforce shortages and barriers to accessing care.
The PCO also provides technical assistance and fosters collaboration to expand access to primary care. This work includes coordination of the National Health Service Corps programs for Ohio, as well as state workforce programs, including the Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program and the J-1 Visa Waiver Program. Additionally, the PCO encourages local, state and federal coordination in planning and development of FQHCs and other safety net services.
Several programs within the Primary Care Office focus on assisting communities with recruitment and retention of health care professionals in underserved areas throughout the state.
Three of the programs and activities within the Primary Care Office (PCO) are the PCO grant, the collection and analysis of primary care and demographic data for Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and the assessment of community data for possible Medically Underserved Area and Medically Underserved Population (MUA/P) designations. The PCO also assists in the designation of Governor's Certified Shortage Areas for the purpose of rural health clinics.