Our Mission

To improve the health and medical care of residents of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania through increased and better access to physicians and health care providers. Improve health care outcomes of residents of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to further the extension of medical knowledge and encourage the advancement of medical science. 

PALCO 2015

Compassion. Generosity. Dedication. 

These are the qualities that led in 2007 to the creation of Project Access Lancaster County (PALCO), Lancaster’s program of donated medical service for the uninsured. Family doctors, hospitals, specialists and pother providers all chose to treat PALCO patients, literally funding the program by foregoing their usual fees. In the 8 years since, PALCO providers contributed a staggering $47.8 million of medical care. The healthcare picture is different in 2015 and PALCO ended its volunteer program on April 1. We celebrate and thank the unselfish men and women of Lancaster’s medical community who gave so much for so long to people in need.

Project Access Lancaster County (PALCO), a program of the Lancaster County Medical foundation, began in 2007 out of a concern of the local medical community for the uninsured in Lancaster County.

PALCO was a collaborative, network comprised of volunteer physicians, hospitals, clinics and pharmacists who pooled their time and resources to provide healthcare services for Lancaster County's low income, uninsured residents. This collaborative was built on the nationally recognized Project Access model to provide integrated access to a full range of healthcare services for uninsured families, children and adults. 

In 2007 Lancaster County was home to 500,000 residents with 11% (55,000) uninsured, and 60% (33,000) of household incomes below 200% FPIG ($41,200/family of 4), 25% (8,250), are children.  Both children and adults lack access to specialized healthcare services that most insured individuals rely on regularly to maintain wellness and follow up with primary care physician recommendations.  An estimated 80% of these children and adults are in households where someone is working, sometimes at more than one job to make ends meet.  (See the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, at www.hhf.org.)

Five health clinics serve this population, (Southeast Lancaster Health Services, Welsh Mountain, Water Street Rescue Mission, Hope Within, and Lancaster General Family Health Services).  While Lancaster County is fortunate to have these resources, their combined capacity is limited to only 8,480 uninsured patients.  Consequently, many children, parents and other adults face barriers obtaining diagnostic labs and x-rays, pharmaceuticals, specialty referrals and hospital-based services essential for certain urgent and chronic health conditions.

Most physicians treated uninsured patients but struggled to care for them given the dramatic difference between supply and demand.  Most hospitals and other providers had charity care programs for the uninsured to assist in responding to these needs, but the reality is that access was often fragmented, requiring separate applications, eligibility criteria, and co-pays that were confusing and cumbersome. Frequently, the existence of these programs was not even known to the uninsured.     

As a result, patients frequently fell through the cracks, sometimes returning to a physician's office without needed ancillaries to diagnose and treat their conditions.  This consumed valuable physician time, further aggravated health problems, and frustrated effective healthcare for physicians and patients.  As a result, patients frequently resort to hospital emergency rooms for episodic care which is expensive and least equipped to address chronic and/or multiple health concerns.  Many compromised their care or went without,  sharing prescriptions within a family or delaying diagnostic procedures  to avoid medical bills until the condition becomes serious, even life threatening. 

We replicated the successful Project Access initiative in Lancaster County to better address this need.  PALCO was a physician-led volunteer network committed to creating partnerships and leveraging alignment of existing healthcare and related resources to better serve Lancaster County’s uninsured. PALCO mobilized a volunteer network of physicians and negotiate partnerships with other healthcare providers to create a seamless healthcare referral network for the low income, uninsured. 

The goal of PALCO was to provide a coordinated system for helping uninsured people get the care they need in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.

Participants were assigned a medical home.  Participants were encouraged to see their doctor at least once a year, for preventative care. PALCO was stared in 2007 with 620 medical providers and all four hospitals in the county. As we transition to new services in 2015, we have 958 medical providers out of the estimated 1,100 physicians in Lancaster County. We have served 4,988 individuals who had 78,561 medical encounters valued at $47.8 Million.

  1. Through PALCO, doctors demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of their profession by donating care through this charity care network.

  2. It restored a sense of satisfaction to health care providers as they intervene to make a difference in peoples' lives.

  3. Businesses benefited from a healthier workforce, absenteeism decreases and productivity increases.

  4. Hospitals benefited from lower uncompensated emergency room use, as well as reduced hospital admissions and/or shorter lengths of stay. 

  5. Emergency room use rate of PALCO patients is about half that of the general population.

  6. Health care in the county is delivered more efficiently and effectively.

  7. Clinics can treat more people now that uninsured patients can access care and medicine.

  8. Health care and other groups are talking to each other and working together in ways they hadn’t before.

  9. Health care services provided to the low income population are fully documented. Increased focus on quality initiatives is now possible.

  10. PALCO encouraged other professionals to provide services to the Lancaster Community through volunteerism. (Dentist and Behavioral Health)

  11. County residents will be healthier as they access medical services.

  12. Healthy people are more able to deal with family issues, such as parenting and employment.

  13. Participants are educated in their responsibilities as patients and how to navigate health systems.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the expansion of Medicaid in Pennsylvania have made immense strides in expanding access to affordable health coverage. However, some lower- and moderate-income consumers still struggle to afford coverage and care, even with the help of federal financial assistance. PALCO is gathering information on what is working well and what gaps exist as this new world of health coverage develops. It seems clear there will be individuals who will find “affordable” care beyond their means.

PALCO is working to create a countywide medical support program, targeted to assist primarily low-income families whose insurance has high copays and deductibles; we would also assist individuals without health insurance as a system of last resort. We are also now a part of the “Let’s Talk Lancaster Collaborative”. Which seeks to end the stigma surrounding mental health in Lancaster County. Our role in that program includes helping people with limited means in being able to afford co pays for mental health services.

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”  

Winston Churchill

“I think it is very appropriate to our mission.”

Dr. T. R. Foley

PALCO is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.

2011 Ah-Ha Grant Recipient

2012 Designathon Participant

 Affordable Health Carehttp://www.artistryinmotion.org/Artistry/health_care.html

480 New Holland Ave., Ste 8202

Lancaster, PA 17602


717.735.9586 Fax

Email: lisa_palco@comcast.net

Project Access Lancaster County

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