Grand County Health and Fitness: Healthcare too expensive? P.A.I.N.S. and A.C.H.E.S. can help
Those two words sum up the major focus of the Grand County Rural Health Network.
The Network, which was formed nearly 10 years ago to work in partnership to improve and direct the future of Grand County’s healthcare, takes a direct and hands-on approach to seeing that Grand County citizens have access to expanded and improved healthcare options.
Whether it is helping to provide access to care for the uninsured, offering healthcare to children or, free healthcare advice, the Network strives to meet the county’s healthcare needs.
The Network’s Board of Directors is a partnership of healthcare providers, community leaders and citizens who are committed to developing and building an integrated healthcare delivery system to the residents of Grand County.
P.A.I.N.S. ” New in March
New this year in the Network’s offerings is P.A.I.N.S., which stands for Partners for Adults In Need of Services. The program will be available in March.
Jenn Giacomini, Community Health Program Coordinator for the Network, said P.A.I.N.S. will provide medical vouchers for acute, non-emergent medical care to uninsured adults who qualify financially. Vouchers for this program will be available in March of 2008.
“We know that especially up here there are so many people who are struggling with trying to make ends meet working multiple jobs, and few of these jobs offer health insurance,” Giacomini said.
The program is provided in partnership with Grand County Public Health. “This is not a permanent fix, it’s more like a Band-Aid,” said Brene Belew-Ladue, Director of Public Health. “Our hope is that this will be a sustainable program until an alternative community answer to access to healthcare can be attained.”
A more permanent solution may be part of the new Granby Medical Campus (see related story) that’s set to be completed through the efforts of the Grand County Rural Health Network in spring 2010. Future plans for the Granby Medical Campus include a countywide solution, like a community care clinic that would offer healthcare to the uninsured.
That Grand County and Colorado residents are in need of this sort of help became clear in recent studies released by a quarterly journal of the Colorado Health Foundation, titled “Health Elevations (Winter, 2008).”
Colorado ranked 32nd in the nation for the percentage of working age adults not covered by private or public health insurance, the publication states. Even more alarming, it ranked 44th in the nation for the percentage of children not covered by health insurance. These numbers are mirrored in Grand County.
“That’s not good,” Giacomini said. “Obviously there’s a problem and we’re taking temporary steps to fix it.”
This program, and other programs and services provided by the network, are funded solely through grants and philanthropy. Therefore, vouchers will be available on a limited basis.
To determine if you meet the financial qualifications, call Grand County’s Public Health Nurses at (970) 725-3288 or the Network at (970) 887-3064.
The Network also offers the A.C.H.E.S. program, which stands for Advocacy for Children’s Health and Education Services, and is in its fourth year of operation. This program provides medical, dental and mental health vouchers for acute and non-emergent healthcare needs to uninsured children under the age of 18. There is a financial qualification for this program.
One particular service new to the A.C.H.E.S. program in 2007 was the mobile medical and dental vans for the county’s uninsured and underinsured children.
Similar dental and medical van programs are being planned for 2008.
“We knew that the need for dental care is huge in the county, especially for children,” Giacomini said, referring to the dental van program. “With the dental van, we were able to serve 181 kids.”
Aside from helping all those children, the dental van program was also able to give a big boost to one child’s self-esteem.
Giacomini said one child showed up at the dental van who had some very intense stains on his two front teeth. His self-esteem was so low because of the stained teeth that he sometimes wouldn’t talk for fear of showing his teeth. And sometimes when he would talk, he’d put his hands over his mouth.
The dental student and the dentist did all they could to remove the stains, she said, but their efforts didn’t work. So they went the extra step and decided to put veneers on the child’s teeth, an expensive, yet effective procedure.
“When he saw the difference on his teeth, he started crying,” Giacomini said. “And when he showed the family, they started crying.”
The boy with the “new” teeth used his saved allowance money to buy red roses for the dental student who placed the veneers on his teeth. This story is a good example of how health, or lack thereof, affects the entire person.
In 2007 along the Network and its partners served 349 children and provided more than $100,000 in services through the A.CH.E.S. Program.
Health Advisor Program
The Network also offers the Health Advisor Program in which people can call and have health questions answered by a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This program is free and confidential. Call (970) 887-1711 for this service.
Health Provider Forum
Through advertisements in the local media, especially the Sky-Hi Daily News, the Network lets locals and visitors know about what healthcare services are being offered, and when.
“It’s a great way to inform people that these services are here, and that our providers understand the issues we have in this county,” Giacomini said. “So the providers bring specialists up to the county to provide better access to care.”
In all these ways, the Grand County Rural Health Network helps improve and unite healthcare for visitors and local residents in Grand County.
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