Helping the uninsured make health connections

December 10, 2013

Wally, age 35, arrives at WellSpan’s HealthConnect van at the York County School of Technology with a painfully swollen, bruised index finger on his right hand.

The nail is dark and the finger is stiff. Wally slammed the door shut on his finger as he tried to prevent a child from running into his car door.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” jokes Wally.

Wally has no health insurance. He works as a temp since losing his full-time job last year.

Sarah, Wally’s wife, does not work enough hours to afford a health insurance premium. They do not pay for health insurance in order to meet their expenses for shelter, food and raising their 10-year-old son, Dennis.

While Wally is being examined, Sarah talks with a care coordinator about her depression. She realizes she would feel better if she took her antidepressant, but the cost is too high.

She shares her worries about Wally not being able to work because of his injured finger; she worries that she might be late to work and that it could lead to her losing her job.

The HealthConnect staff consists of physicians, nurse practitioners, care coordinators, drivers/clerks, volunteers, administrative and maintenance staff. They provide care and help families make the health connections they need.

Wally needs an antibiotic for his finger. Wally and Sarah want to pay for the prescription because personal pride is important to them.

The staff calls the Healthy Community Pharmacy, a program of Healthy York Network’s community effort to address needs of people who are uninsured and underinsured. The pharmacy is able to fill the prescription for an affordable fee and it will be ready in an hour.

A Healthy York Network application is given to the family with instructions on where, when and how to complete and deliver it for review. Wally and Sarah understand that it is not insurance, but a discount program for support.

Wally takes the order to have an X-ray completed and is told that the provider will call him with results. Wally knows that he can come back to HealthConnect for follow up, if needed. The goal, however, is for Wally and Sarah to develop a relationship with a primary care provider for ongoing care.

WellSpan can help them reach that goal.

Before they leave the HealthConnect van, they receive information about the importance of good dental hygiene, toothbrushes and some kid-friendly reading materials about dental hygiene for Dennis. Sarah also gets a phone number for Crisis Intervention, in case her depression and negative thoughts get worse.

Staff members reinforce Wally and Sarah’s positives—their parenting skills, their commitment to each other and their willingness to partner with HealthConnect to make a positive impact on their health.

They also receive a card with the date of their visit to HealthConnect, the names of staff members they met and a phone number for non-urgent questions.

Wally and Sarah are among the more than 800 patients the HealthConnect team treated from July 2012 through June 2013.

“Our job is to help the uninsured make community health connections,” said Kelly Osmolinski-Smith, manager of Community Health Connections. “Our goal is a healthier community despite the individual’s resources. Our patients are our neighbors in York and Adams counties.”

WellSpan’s HealthConnect is a community-based medical outreach program designed to “connect” uninsured families with the medical services and health care programs that they need through a mobile service regularly provided in York and Adams counties.