Tim Meyers

Twelve Indiana Healthcare Providers Receive Grants to Improve Accessibility for People with Disabilities

01/28/21

Grants provided by MHS as part of Provider Accessibility Initiative

INDIANAPOLIS – (January 28, 2021) – MHS, in partnership with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), has awarded 12 healthcare providers across Indiana with grants to make their facilities more accessible to people with disabilities. The awardees applied for grants which are part of the health plan’s Provider Accessibility Initiative (PAI), with the full list of grantees including:

  • Porter Starke Services DBA Marram Health Center
  • Eric A Yancy, M.D.
  • Forniss Optometric P.C.
  • Walker Medical Group
  • HealthLinc, Inc.
  • Open Door Health Services
  • Edgewater Health
  • Tulip Tree Health Services of Gibson County
  • Montgomery Medical Associates LLC
  • Southern Indiana Community Health Care
  • Community HealthNet Health Centers
  • Goshen Family Physicians

The goal of the PAI is to increase the number of practitioner locations that meet minimum federal and state disability access standards. Providers in the MHS network selected to receive grant funds submitted applications to NCIL, explaining their need for more accessible facilities. MHS selected recipients based on the impact of the improvements on its disability access network adequacy, as well as the number of MHS members with disabilities impacted.

In the application process, providers proposed a list of potential improvements for each of their facilities. Upgrades like doorway and restroom modifications, more accessible exam tables and procedure chairs, and braille signage are just some of the improvement additions intended to be made with the additional funds. Some providers submitted multiple applications for several of their facility locations to make improvements.

“We are very excited to receive this funding. We will be able to serve a much larger segment of our community with dignity. I don’t want any patient, particularly kids, to feel like their care is an extra burden to staff or family. Everyone’s experience when going to the doctor should feel comfortable. A wheelchair should be able to enter a room easily. A transport chair should be able to go up a ramp easily. More importantly, a patient, should not even notice their experience is different than any other patient. I am proud to play a part in maintaining the dignity of others,” said Dr. Roland Walker, M.D. of Walker Medical Group.

For more information about the grants and the provider accessibility initiative, visit: www.ncil.org/provider-accessibility-initiative/

Posted by Tim Meyers in Disabilities Accessibility, Grants, Rural Healthcare

New SICHC obstetrics offering successfully providing critical services in Salem, Shoals, and other areas of southern Indiana

SHOALS and SALEM, Indiana – Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) new obstetrics services for expectant mothers and families is “being well-received and making good progress in reaching mothers, babies and women,” according to Yolanda Yoder, MD, SICHC medical director. The new services include general obstetrics, pregnancy, well-baby, and well-woman services here and in other areas of southern Indiana, including expanded services in Crawford county.

“Rural areas traditionally present a number of unique challenges that expectant mothers or women who seek OB-related services may face, including limited service” said Dr. Yoder. “We have expanded our strong OB service offerings with our physicians and Melissa Ray, a family nurse practitioner, to meet these important needs in Washington, Martin, and Crawford counties, as well as the patients we serve in Orange and elsewhere in southern Indiana.”

“Pregnancy is a very special time for expectant mothers and families, and I count it a privilege to help support them with OB, well-baby, pediatric, and well-woman services,” Ray said. “Every pregnancy is different, and our entire medical staff recognizes the uniqueness of each patient and goes beyond to ensure great care is delivered.”

Melissa Ray, MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

Ray provides OB services at the Choices Life Resource Center in Salem and at the Martin County Health Department/WIC facility in Shoals, as well as SICHC’s other locations in Orange and Crawford counties when appropriate.

In addition to being a family nurse practitioner, Ray holds a master’s degree in Nursing.

Ray directly cares for expectant mothers through in-person visits (observing COVID-19 precautions) and by telehealth connectivity. At 36 weeks into a pregnancy, Ray’s patients are transferred and then served directly by SICHC physicians, including Dr. Sean Salés, Dr. Karen Farris, and Dr. Yoder. Babies are normally delivered at the IU Hospital in Paoli by SICHC physicians with visiting privileges.

SICHC secured a grant from the Indiana State Department of Health earlier in 2020 to specifically help provide obstetrics services to counties that had been designated as medically underserved for OB.

Ray presently travels between SICHC medical offices in Shoals, Salem and elsewhere to see patients and provide general OB services. “Missy Ray offers our expectant mothers and their babies superb depth and first-hand experience,” said Dr. Yoder. “In addition to being a qualified and experienced nurse practitioner caring for OB patients and families these past four years, she served in the hospital delivery room for 16 years and as a general RN.”

“It’s very exciting to provide these services and help mothers, babies, families and women in general lead healthy lives,” said Ray. “I especially appreciate working with the OB and extended medical team at SICHC, because everyone here puts patients first, treating and supporting them as people, not a set of chronic conditions – there’s a very high commitment to service.” 

Ray also appreciates being able to offer general women’s health services, including preventive measures like mammograms and pap smears. “We want to elevate the level of woman and family health, which can be a challenge for woman and families living in rural areas,” she said.

Serving as a nurse practitioner has special moments, including once when Ray helped with a delivery that was being securely streamed by video to a military serviceman serving in Afghanistan. “That was an amazing moment, giving a father serving across the world the chance to see his baby being born in southern Indiana – those are priceless experiences.”

 

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About the Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) nonprofit organization – Well-known as a high-impact health care provider committed to continuity of care, the nonprofit Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) organization is committed to providing high-quality, comprehensive, community-sensitive health care utilizing Christ-centered principles to medically underserved, rural communities.  As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), SICHC serves as a “safety net” provider for vulnerable populations and focuses on increasing access to primary care services for Medicaid and Medicare patients in rural communities. SICHC offers medical care in medically underserved areas of Crawford, Martin, Orange, and Washington counties. SICHC is a member of the National Health Services Corps and receives program funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SICHC offers services to all persons, regardless of the person’s ability to pay. For more information, please visit https://sichc.org/

Posted by Tim Meyers in Obstetrics, Rural Healthcare

How health partnerships can help rural communities prep for COVID

Yolanda Yoder M.D. and Priscilla Barnes PH.D.

Author: Priscilla Barnes, Ph.D. & Yolanda Yoder, M.D.
National Rural Health Association – See the story here

With stark images of urban hospitals overrun with patients, the national media coverage of COVID-19 has focused largely on cities. Less discussed and less understood is the impact on rural communities, which have been grossly underprepared for a pandemic. As we contemplate an additional wave of the virus, now is the time to assess how rural communities can achieve greater resilience.

We now know that having an adequate supply of ventilators, testing, and PPE is essential, but this alone won’t be enough. Just as important are the structures we have in place — specifically, community partnerships around health. In hindsight, it is increasingly clear that communities that developed relationships within their health network were able to respond faster and more effectively than communities where organizations operated in isolation.

Given the realities facing rural America — physician shortages, a dearth of health care resources, and a population that’s highly vulnerable to chronic disease — these partnerships were always important, but increasingly so during a pandemic. This virus has served as a wake-up call to strengthen these partnerships and tackle rural health challenges in a more committed and enduring way.

Building more resilient rural communities means maximizing existing resources, staging health interventions that address root causes, and thoughtfully sharing information. Partnerships are at the core of these interventions. We must find ways to incentivize and support community health networks that include health care providers, local and national nonprofits, businesses, and local government officials. Such partnerships, whether they are formal or informal, can help rural America whether the next wave of the virus and address underlying health challenges.

Fundamentally, rural health partnerships enable communities to more effectively address social determinants of health. As America’s experience with the pandemic has made clear, populations that were already experiencing health disparities have fared worse than those that were not. Rural health partnerships can help address social determinants of health that lead to disparities and remove some of the strain from health care providers.

When community health organizations band together to holistically address social determinants of health — as we have seen in Orange County and Daviess County, Ind., through the development of community health improvement plans — we can free up practitioners within the formal health care system to do what they do best. When patients are receiving help gaining access to housing or food from community partners, doctors and nurses are able to concentrate on treating the most serious cases. In rural America, where the proportion of providers to the general population is far below the federal recommended level, this type of coordination is especially needed.

Such coordination also applies to sharing resources like in-demand PPE between community health organizations. As we prepare for a potentially prolonged economic downturn, we need to extend this model to address other social determinants of health. If one community’s food pantry stock is bare, another town may have a surplus. We need to expand rural health partnerships to enable this type of coordination.

The impact of rural health partnerships can also be felt in less obvious ways. One of their most important functions is information sharing. Rural health practitioners often wear many hats and lack the ability to focus deeply on any one area of their practice. Health partnerships can ease this burden by delivering customized solutions. The Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement and Southern Indiana Community Health Care recently developed a new app to track the spread of COVID-19 in consultation with local physicians and public health leaders. Moving forward, it will provide surrounding communities with advance warning of an outbreak.

Information sharing can be as simple as sending daily or weekly updates and COVID-19 safety recommendations. Other groups have developed an online directory of financial and physical resources such as food and medication delivery services for individuals and families. Some respond directly to inquiries and manage social media channels dedicated to informing organizations and residents and supporting local needs.

Rural health partnerships yield tremendous value that we cannot afford to ignore. As we expand our work, we need local governments and community-based organizations to help us better shape our approach to fit individual rural communities. But this is just a start. We need continued investment and partnership from government to strengthen rural health networks.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then crisis is the mother of adoption. Rural health partnerships were providing value for rural Americans before COVID-19. Now that the pandemic is here, such partnerships are indispensable and should be greatly expanded.

Dr. Priscilla Barnes, Ph.D. is an associate professor at Indiana University Bloomington School of Public Health and an affiliate faculty member at the IU Center for Rural Engagement.

Dr. Yolanda Yoder, M.D. is a physician of family medicine at Southern Indiana Community Health Care.

Posted by Tim Meyers in Rural Healthcare