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By working together, we can break down barriers in health care access (Flickr.com)

Links: Overcoming Barriers to Health Care Access

By Molly Miller

In this month’s e-zine, we discuss a variety of unique initiatives designed to reduce or eliminate barriers to health care access, especially in urban areas. In short, we are exploring programs that offer low-income, vulnerable populations with a straight path to care rather than the winding road that they often have to take to receive even the most basic care. Below, you will find resources for improving health care access in your community including videos, case studies, and ongoing initiatives that you can model for your own community.

Health Care Access Initiatives

ITNAmerica: ITNAmerica is a community-based transportation network that makes it possible for seniors to access the health care services that they need. In addition to driving seniors to doctors appointments, ITNAmerica also provides them with the ability to live independently in their own homes for a longer period of time than if they had no access to transportation. This is key because these services allow seniors to “age in place”, which means that they are able to stay in their own homes for a longer period of time. Aging in place has many benefits, including a reduced likelihood of contracting illnesses in a nursing home, the ability to stay close to family members, and the ability to minimize the cost of living. However, it is important to note that aging in place is only possible if seniors are able to utilize services like ITNAmerica, which help them stay active in their communities in a safe and accessible way.

Remote Area Medical: Remote Area Medical works to break down barriers to health care access by running mobile clinics in underserved, isolated, and impoverished communities in the United States. They also work internationally, provide disaster relief services, and veterinary services to those in need. Upcoming clinics include:

  • September 12 – 13, 2015: Lee County, Virginia
  • September 19, 2015: Somerset, Kentucky
  • October 2 – 4, 2015: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • October 3 -4, 2015: Grundy, Virginia
  • October 9 – 11, 2015: Yerington, Nevada

National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics: NAFC clinics have served over 17,500 low-income patients since their first clinic in 2009. Additionally, NAFC provides a wealth of knowledge regarding public policy and best practices to its members. Its 2015 public policy priorities include affordable drug pricing, changes in Medicaid reimbursement processes for charitable clinics, and expanding the Federal Torts Claim Act to cover free and charitable clinics.

Articles

Grace Wong (2009), “Pop-up clinic brings free health care to thousands”, CNN – Reports on a Remote Area Medical clinic in Los Angeles, which served over 4,500 patients in three days.

Bruce Japson (2012), “More Health Clinics Pop Up Inside Retailers”, The New York Times – Discusses the increase in health clinics partnering with retailers, such as CVS, Walmart, and Safeway as well as their potential for improving health care access across the country by offering convenient care locations.

Farihah Zaman (2012), “What Attending a Free Clinic Can Teach Every American About Health Care”, Huffington Post – Explores the author’s experience attending a Remote Area Medical clinic held in Bristol, Tennessee as well as what Americans can learn from engaging with those who utilize free clinics.

Tara Parker-Pope (2013), “Tackling a Racial Gap in Breast Cancer Survival”, The New York Times – Describes racial disparities in breast cancer survival as well as the ways in which the Congregational Health Network helped local hospitals reduce disparities in the Memphis area by educating members of their congregation about early breast cancer screenings, offering taxi vouchers for travel to and from medical appointments, and offering referrals to free mammography programs in the area.

Samina T. Syed, Ben S. Gerber, and Lisa K. Sharp (2013), “Traveling Towards Disease: Transportation Barriers to Health Care Access”, Journal of Community Health – Examines transportation barriers as a limitation to health care services and the potential for improving health outcomes of low-income populations by reducing those barriers.

Lucy Wescott (2014), “‘Remote Area Medical’ Shows What America’s Uninsured Go Through for Health Care”, Newsweek – Discusses the recently released documentary “Remote Area Medical”, which highlights a barriers that the uninsured still face in a post-Affordable Care Act America.

Videos

Focus Forward Short Films, “Remote Area Medical”  – A short trailer for the “Remote Area Medical” documentary, release in 2013.

ITNAmerica, “ITNAmerica presents the Storybook Tour” – A video announcement of ITNAmerica’s Storybook Tour project, which tells the stories of real Americans who have been impacted by transportation access issues.

UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project, “2012 About Us: UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project”  – Discusses the work being done by the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project through brief interviews with participating medical students, volunteers, patients, and the program director, Dr. Ellen Beck.