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


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:

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

5 Tips for COVID Mental Health

By Teresa Faulkner, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

COVID-19 affects everyone, not just those who have caught the virus. Even if you haven’t been physically infected, you most likely have been affected by it emotionally in one way or another. And the longer the pandemic lasts, the more challenging it can be to find ways to cope with the feelings it has caused.

How you deal with COVID stress depends on your background, your level of social support and many other factors. But by using these five tips, you will be better equipped to deal with the current situation as well as other stressful times in the future.

  1. Acknowledge your emotions.

It’s important to recognize and acknowledge what you’re feeling. It’s natural to feel anxious, afraid, frustrated or lonely. And don’t be surprised if your feelings change over time. One day you may feel full of energy and the next day be unable to focus. Accept how you are feeling and practice good self-care: eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep.

Feeling helpless? Remind yourself that there are steps you can take to reduce the odds that you will contract the virus, such as following the CDC guidelines: wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, avoiding crowds and washing your hands.

  1. Take a breath and a break.

Take those deep breaths. It may sound like it’s too simple to really have any impact, but deep belly breathing not only gets oxygen into your body but can also slow your heartbeat and help stabilize your blood pressure. This counteracts the negative impact of stress breathing (short, shallow breaths) that can lead to symptoms like chest tightness, heart palpitations or dizziness.

Also, during the day, take periodic breaks and practice relaxation techniques. This will help generate a sense of calmness and relaxation.

  1. Connect with friends and family members.

One of the biggest challenges with the pandemic is that it has increased feelings of isolation. No longer can you meet a friend for dinner to talk over your problems, since doing so would put both of you at risk. However, there are ways you can share how you feel with those you trust. Phone calls or video chats can help replace in-person get-togethers. Even occasional walks (with masks and practicing social distancing) can make you feel less alone. Sometimes when you share your emotions, you find out others feel the same way, too.

  1. Develop a routine.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly disrupted your schedule and way of life, forcing you to try to adjust to a new “normal” that seems to change every day. When everything around you seems out of control, creating a routine can actually give you a sense of power. Make it simple and do-able—for example, eating and exercising at established times or setting small goals to work toward. While your COVID routine may bear no resemblance to the one you had pre-pandemic, the objective is to follow a schedule, which will then give you a feeling of security. An additional benefit is that by having a routine, you will also be taking better care of yourself.

  1. Shut off the info flow.

While you may think it’s a good idea to stay on top of all the latest virus developments, this can actually increase your stress level. Periodically, give yourself a mental break by shutting off the info flow. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to virus news stories, including those on social media. Instead, seek out pockets of calm: read a good book, go for a walk, listen to music or find activities that engage your mind and body.

And when you are ready to catch up on pandemic news, make sure that you are getting it from a reputable source like the CDC. You’ll have a better understanding of the risks and will be less likely to spread misinformation.

Let Us Help You

While COVID-19 is unlike any health crisis we have faced before, it’s important to remember that it is a temporary situation. Thanks to medical research, vaccines are now available to combat the virus and new treatments have been developed to help those who contract it.

However, if you have trouble coping with your emotions, develop physical ailments that last for several days, or turn to unhealthy coping mechanism such as drinking or drug use, then consider seeking professional help.

Here at Southern Indiana Community Health Care, our offices include a mental health counselor as part of our care team. This allows us to treat the whole individual, physically and mentally. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SICHC has expanded our behavioral health services to include virtual visits, offering the same high-quality care from your trusted provider. We have also added two virtual group sessions: substance use and anxiety.

For more information, contact one of our four offices, and a staff member will help schedule you for the type of appointment that best fits your needs. You can also request appointments through your FollowMyHealth account.

Trust our team to help you through the emotional challenges caused by COVID-19. Reach out to us. We’re here to help you. Remember, we are all in this together.

Posted by koch in Covid-19, Mental Health, Rural Healthcare

Pregnancy Tips During COVID

By Yolanda Yoder, MD, Family Practitioner and Member of the SICHC OB Team 

Pregnancy is a joyous time but pregnancy can be stressful for expectant mothers. This stress is natural. After all, during pregnancy, everything is changing: from the way you look to the way you feel physically and emotionally. And now with COVID-19 complicating nearly every aspect of your life, your stress level is may be even higher if you worry about being pregnant during a pandemic.

What steps can you personally take to lower stress levels and stay healthy during your pregnancy, in spite of COVID?

Eat Healthy

Good nutrition is important for both you and your baby. That means avoiding a lot of sweets and following a well-balanced diet with fruit and vegetables, dairy, good carbs with fiber (like oats and other whole grains) and healthy protein: nuts, chicken, fish and beans. Want help planning a healthy meal? Check out the guidelines at Choose My Plate

As for the old saying “eating for two,” the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends skipping that in favor of thinking of eating twice as healthy. Try practicing mindfulness in all your activities- including eating. Become aware of your habits, do your research, work with your provider, and let your focus rest on being healthy. 

Having twins? You only need about 600 extra calories extra a day to support your growing babies. Make them good calories and you won’t have to worry about overeating (and by the way empty calories tend to leave you hungry). Overeating during pregnancy means more stress on your body and more weight to lose after birth. Good meals and snacks leave you feeling satisfied and content—and healthy.

Exercise Regularly 

According to the American Pregnancy Association, just 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise several days a week can help lower cortisol levels—the hormone that fosters anxiety. Exercise also eases constipation, reduces back pain and promotes healthy weight gain as well as improves your overall fitness, says ACOG. Even just simply taking a walk every day can make a difference, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Get Enough Sleep

Sometimes it can be a challenge to get good quality sleep as your body adjusts to the growing baby. While in the first trimester you may feel drowsier than normal and may even have to take naps, physical changes in the second and third trimester can make it harder to get the shut-eye you need. Between the kicks and the bathroom trips, you may find you’re just as tired when you get up in the morning as when you went to bed the night before.

Tips from the Sleep Foundation include reducing your fluid intake in the evening, avoiding spicy or acidic foods if you’re prone to heartburn, using pillows to support your body in a comfortable position and trying relaxation techniques to help calm your mind. ACOG offers a simple breathing technique to try: Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and breathe out for 8 seconds. Repeat three times. Still having trouble sleeping? Talk to your doctor if your insomnia persists.

Seek Social Support

Social support during this time is very important, but COVID-19 has conversely made it harder to spend time with friends and family members. Find ways to be with others while staying socially-distant—perhaps taking a “masked” walk together or even having virtual get-togethers, when you can talk about what is happening during your pregnancy. You can also reach out to other expecting and new mothers through online groups.

Monitor Your Stress Levels

In the same way you are watching how much you eat and exercise, you need to watch how much stress you’re exposing yourself to, and as much as possible, limit your contact to it. The March of Dimes recommends taking periodic breaks from watching or listening to the pandemic news stories or limiting your time on social media to help reduce anxiety. Experiencing extreme feelings of sadness, hopelessness or despair? Talk with your doctor or other health care professional so you can get the extra support you may need. 

For more advice, download the free fact sheet from the March of Dimes: COVID-19 Things to know if you’re pregnant—available in many languages.

Let Us Help You 

Now that you have some ideas in what you can do to stay healthy for your sake and the wellbeing of your baby, here’s what we at SICHC will be doing to make this wonderful time easier for you. 

We do everything we can to create a safe environment for our mothers and babies. We take special care to ensure that all six SICHC locations are frequently sanitized and cleaned according to CDC guidelines, and we limit the number of patients to keep interaction at a minimum. 

We’ve also temporarily opened an office on Cherry Street in Paoli for obstetrics and newborn care only, in addition to our pregnancy care services at our Shoals and Salem locations.

And when appropriate, we can schedule a virtual visit to reduce your in-office time. For more information about this option, contact one of our offices, and a staff member will help schedule you for the type of appointment that best fits your needs. You can also request appointments through your FollowMyHealth account.

We encourage you to trust our team to provide not just a safe environment, but also to walk with you through both the physical and the emotional challenges of your pregnancy.

This is a special time for you, your baby, and your family. Our experienced team stands ready to share and support your journey – contact us today.

Posted by koch in Covid-19, Obstetrics, Pregnancy

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

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

SICHC expands obstetrics services into Crawford, Martin counties, restores critical services to medically underserved areas

SICHC Obstetrics Team
NEW OB TEAM – Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) launches new OB services for expectant mothers and families in Crawford, Martin and Washington counties. From left: Dr. Karen Farris, Dr. Yolanda Yoder (SICHC Medical Director), Dr. Sean Sales, and Missy Ray, FNP.

New family practice physician will also join SICHC in August, serving families and OB patients in Orange County as SICHC also opens new facilities in Shoals and Salem.

PAOLI, Indiana – Long-time medical provider Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) formally launched its new obstetrics services in Crawford and Martin counties in early August. The new OB service will now provide a full spectrum of services, including well-woman visits, female health, birth control, pregnancy care (pre-natal and post-partum), well-baby care, tobacco cessation and other OB-related services.

“We are very pleased to introduce these new services locally in what has sometimes been described as a medical desert for critical OB services for pregnant mothers and babies,” said Dr. Yolanda Yoder, MD, SICHC Medical Director. “We are excited that our medical professionals will begin seeing obstetrics and gynecology patients this month in Crawford and Martin counties.” SICHC is also planning to bring OB services to the Salem area in Washington county later in August.

The new OB services will be provided at rural facilities in English, Marengo, and Shoals. The facilities provide convenient access and reduce barriers of transportation in securing quality health care, including being closer to under-served Hoosier mothers and segments of Indiana’s Amish population. The services in Shoals will take place at the Hoosier Uplands Health Department/WIC site, which is partnering with SICHC to provide a broad spectrum of services.

“Rural Indiana faces real challenges in combating infant mortality and securing quality pre-natal, pregnancy, post-partum and well-baby care, and we are grateful to see SICHC stepping up to deliver these important health care services where there is a demonstrated critical need,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG. “SICHC’s demonstrated commitment to provide health care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay represents a real asset in these medically underserved and economically challenged areas of southern Indiana.” 

A traveling Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Missy Ray, MSN, will serve OB patients in the three offices. In addition to holding a master’s degree in nursing with her FNP certification, Ms. Ray has considerable experience in obstetrics. SICHC has also secured the services of Dr. Karen Farris, a family practice physician, who will begin taking appointments in mid-August for OB patients in the SICHC Valley Health Care office in West Baden Indiana (Orange County).

Service to OB patients will be directly coordinated with the selected delivering physician, including secure video, phone, and electronic connectivity with the physician during prenatal visits. Patients will transition to direct physician care at 36 weeks in SICHC’s Paoli or West Baden offices until delivery, which will take place at the IU Health hospital in Paoli, according to Dr. Yoder. Transportation assistance is available for patients in need.

“SICHC has a demonstrated passion for providing medical services to communities and regions in southern Indiana that sometimes face serious challenges in securing access to health care,” said Nancy Radcliff, SICHC CEO. “We are privileged to continue to do what it takes – even seeing patients in our facilities parking lots during this time of COVID-19 – to support the patients, families and rural communities in our southern Indiana region.”

SICHC OB services will be offered at three locations:

  • Uplands Health Department/WIC – 127 West Water Street, Shoals, IN 
  • Patoka Health Care – 307 S Indiana Ave, English, IN
  • Crawford County Health Care – 5604 E. White Oak Lane, Marengo, IN

Hours are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (EDT), with offices closed for lunch between noon and 1 p.m. To schedule an appointment, please call 812-723-3944 and specify the location.

Another new SICHC OB service site will be operational this fall in Salem, Indiana in Washington County.

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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

Posted by Michael Snyder in Obstetrics, 0 comments