First Choice is a key part of the healthcare delivery system that will care for thousands of New Mexicans who get healthcare coverage under President Obama's healthcare reform. We are one of 1,250 Federally-Qualified Health Center systems across the U.S. Our health centers maintain an open-door policy, providing treatment regardless of an individual’s income or insurance coverage. This has been First Choice Community Healthcare's core function since 1972.
Since Bob DeFelice became CEO of First Choice Community Healthcare in 2000, the First Choice system has more than doubled in size, with the majority of growth occurring since 2007. Bob's leadership vision is to make First Choice Community Healthcare the region's premiere primary care provider, where growth is driven by community-identified needs. “People are comfortable coming here because we are in their neighborhood and they recognize us.”
Bob and his senior leadership team, guided by the Board of Directors, has succeeded in attracting significant infrastructure investment from federal, state and local governments:
- $13 million for the 43,000 square foot South Valley Health Commons that opened in 2008.
- $3.2 million for the 15,650 square foot replacement for the South Broadway Health Center, that opened in January 2011 – adding 6 exam rooms for a total of 17, additional space for the WIC program plus expanded waiting rooms and conference/office space.
- $8.1 million for the replacement of the Los Lunas Health Center and opening of a new regional dental center in Los Lunas in August 2012.
In addition to the bricks and mortar, First Choice invests in people – the professionals who deliver the health care. First Choice has hired new physicians and staff members to expand service. We now employ some 75 licensed providers of care (physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, hygienists and behaviorists) with a support staff of over 250 who together provided approximately 265,000 patient visits in 2010.
First Choice plays an essential role in teaching and recruiting the next generations of primary care and dental providers in the state. First Choice serves as a teaching ground for medical and dental residents, as well as medical assistants, lab and pharmacy techs and others doing their clinical work-study. These providers, in turn, use their relationship with UNMH to help provide access to the best academic medicine available, including most specialties. Several providers are getting loan repayment assistance through the National Health Service Corps in exchange for dedicating their years of service to First Choice and its patients