By: Beau Boughamer
Great attention to health centers this week from NPR News! Find audio and written versions of each story below.
My colleague Amy Simmons noted earlier this week that on Tuesday morning, NPR’s Morning Edition aired a story from a reporter at WVPE-FM in Elkart, Ind. The piece focused on an innovative program at the Maple City Health Care Center in which patients can defray some of the cost of their bills by performing community service.
Last fall, when the unemployment rate in Elkhart County, Indiana, topped 10 percent, clinic workers began noticing that patients weren’t showing up for appointments. Turns out they couldn’t even come up with a few bucks for an office visit.
So James Gingrich, the clinic’s medical director, decided to tap his patients’ skills and resources instead. The clinic began offering $10 an hour toward health care if a patient volunteered at another non-profit organization.
Stephany Celis, new mom to son Bradon Alexander, wondered how, without health insurance, she would pay for her prenatal care seven months ago. That’s when she heard about the clinic’s More Than Money program.
Celis volunteered at a low-cost health care agency to pay for all of her prenatal care.
“If I have a chance to go back in the future, I probably will,” Celis says.
The piece quoted NACHC Board Chair Anita Monoian.
Anita Monoian, who heads the National Association of Community Health Centers, says while most clinics try to help those struggling to pay their bills, Maple City’s approach stands out.
“Most of the community health centers I know do some sort of trade or work program if the patients are interested in doing that, but I’m not aware of anybody else doing anything that structured,” Monoian says.
Monoian says community health centers promise that no patient will be turned away because they can’t pay. Still, she says the best thing about this program is that it helps both those receiving the assistance and those volunteering.
Then on Tuesday afternoon, NPR’s All Things Considered carried a piece by California’s Capital Public Radio that put a spotlight on health care needs in the Latino community. The reporter spoke with Dr. David Katz of CommuniCare Health Centers‘ Davis clinic.
Latino immigrants are on average more likely to lack health insurance, face intense job pressures and have higher rates of chronic disease.
Let’s start with one of the biggest concerns for this group: working while they’re sick. Its an ongoing issue for anyone who has a job -call in sick or tough it out.
David Katz is a physician at the Davis Community Clinic just west of Sacramento. He says this is a big issue for his patients.
[Dr. DAVID KATZ (Physician, Davis Community Clinic): Its a conundrum for the Latino worker, the low-income family, because they wont get sick days and they wont get paid during the days that they miss.]
This was the case for one Latino patient he just saw in the clinic.
[Dr. KATZ: They probably did have the flu initially a month ago and now they came in with this prolonged cough and very sick and it turned out they had pneumonia. Thats a very typical story for someone who’s trying to just muscle their way through the illness.]
And as they get sicker, Katz says the public health threat increases. He says typically many low-income Latinos squeeze together in small living quarters because of tight budgets.