Reuben Moore grew up a patient of community health centers and he now leads the state's largest as CEO of St. Paul-based West Side Community Health Services.

As of Jan. 1, West Side has a new name: Minnesota Community Care. Its role as a "beacon of hope" is the same as it has been since its 1969 founding, Moore said.

With 400 employees and 17 locations, it serves 40,000 unique patients annually. Moore joined in October 2017, bringing nearly 20 years of health insurance and health care experience from Mayo Clinic, UnitedHealth Group, Humana and elsewhere.

He's instituting Mayo-style team-based patient care at primary care sites, among other changes. Forty-three percent of Minnesota Community Care's patients are uninsured, Moore said, although those with private insurance increasingly are visiting.

Q: What is community health?

A: Community health centers specialize in delivering localized primary-care services regardless of socioeconomic status. These services are tailored to the communities we serve. The value proposition is built upon high-quality clinical care that is affordable, comprehensive, culturally competent and complemented with enabling services that wrap around our patients to help reduce health access barriers and positively impact social determinants of health.

Q: Where do patients travel from and why?

A: They're coming from all over: Michigan, Oklahoma, all over Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Iowa. We're probably the most affordable in terms of a sliding fee scale. Then there's our cultural competency and legacy around serving diverse communities who have barriers to health access.

Q: How do you work with insured patients?

A: If you're on commercial insurance and have a tough month we can move your bill down to where it's affordable. Health care is becoming increasingly unaffordable, and it's impacting more than just in the low-income brackets.

Q: What services do your locations offer?

A: Primary services, pharmacy, lab, radiology. Social workers, patient reps who can help get you enrolled in MNsure. Chiropractic. We have an ambulatory clinic. Specialty services: an HIV/AIDS clinic. Chronic-condition management. Emergency procedure rooms. Behavioral health and mental health. Nutritionists, community health workers, doulas. We carry probably the most interpreters for an organization our size: 17. We have 50-plus languages in the community. The billing department works with patients on affordability. You can get it all in a one-stop shop.

Q: What changes are you making in addition to team-based care?

A: We added a new site in downtown St. Paul. We intend to open a state-of-the art clinic in partnership with Catholic Charities in St. Paul. It will be the best for those with the least. I think that will be our future concept. We're remodeling the La Clinica site [on St. Paul's West Side]. We're going to add more community health workers and health educators [in schools]. We had one mental health professional at each of our schools, and I said that's not enough. So all of these things are being redeployed into our school-based clinics.

Q: How challenging is it to get resources for new and expanded programs and locations?

A: The economic challenges are intense. To provide the services to the community that the community needs we have to make trade-offs. Sometimes it requires us to be lean in other areas and cut costs in areas that are still important and hope that the reimbursement curve will catch up. But we are making those trade-offs today with the bet that we'll improve in our patient experience and our volume tomorrow and be able to argue for a different way to be reimbursed in the future. It's a risky bet, but we think we're following the best clinical and evidence-based medicine and public health guidance.

Q: What brought you to Minnesota Community Care?

A: I wanted to get closer to care. It was somewhat serendipitous. I helped Mayo Clinic sell its health plan management company, which I was leading. In the same month of the deal closing, a recruiter reached out to me for this role.

Q: What was your experience with community health care centers?

A: I went to Washburn High School in Minneapolis. I hadn't had dental care in maybe eight years or so, and my teeth had been hurting for two years. I thought I couldn't afford health care. Someone said go to Southside (Community Health Services), they'll help take care of you. I remember thinking, "I don't have any money, I don't have any insurance, I don't have anything." They said, "OK, we'll help you," and I got dental care. Thanks to community health centers I've still got great teeth.

Q: What does the future hold for Minnesota Community Care?

A: For 50 years, we have been an innovative leader in community-based, primary care services across our great state of Minnesota. For the next 50 years, we will continue this legacy by expanding our sites, improving our team-based care delivery model, partnering to better impact social determinants of health and relocating our brand as a beacon of community care, hope and healing for those in need of health care access.