About Us

We are part of a National Effort 

Buncombe County, a western North Carolina community of approximately 190,000 citizens, has formed an integrated network of local clinics, private primary and specialty physician volunteers, hospitals and pharmacies to provide universal, on-demand access to the full continuum of health care for the medically underserved citizens of their county.

BCMS Project Access was initiated in 1995 and since then has grown into a national organization, American Project Access Network (APAN).

American Project Access Network (APAN) is a national non-profit 501©(3) service organization that is dedicated to assisting communities across the nation with establishing and sustaining coordinated systems of charity care based on the Ashville/Buncombe County, NC and other Project Access models. This proven approach is capable of providing access to the full continuum of care for the low-income, uninsured. It accomplishes its mission through a full-time, in house consulting staff that works in partnership with national experts in access to care and our team of leaders from communities who have successfully established Project Access-type systems. Following you will find in the order of actual operation a list of counties across the nation providing necessary health care for the uninsured by using the Project Access model. (Beyond this list, there are 59 other communities in the U.S. that are actively investigating/implementing a Project Access-type system of care)!

Our Beginnings

The process started with the Indigent Care Committee organized under the auspices of the Shawnee County Medical Society. This committee comprised of provider and citizen representatives spent many hours studying the plight of the uninsured patients in Shawnee County and possible solutions to the problem. The committee identified the extent of the problem, identified current resources addressing the problem of the uninsured and researched various programs developed by other communities. During this process, the committee identified the Project Access program located in Asheville, North Carolina and made contact with their Executive Director. Through this contact, we learned that Wichita, Kansas was replicating the Project Access model here in Kansas. The committee heard presentations from both programs and decided that a similar approach should be initiated here in Shawnee County.


    Karla Hedquist, SCMS HealthAccess Program Director

    Laura Aguirre, Bilingual Program Consultant

    Sandy Steinlage, Eligibility Specialist



HealthAccess receives funding from the Topeka Community Foundation, the United Way of Greater Topeka, the City of Topeka, Shawnee County, and from private donations.

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