Health access network provides care beyond medical facility
They are among society’s most vulnerable, families who don’t have high-dollar insurance to address health challenges, people who might face issues that affect their physical or mental well-being but who have nowhere to turn.
Central Communities Health Access Network changes all that, with nurses who go beyond nursing basics and offer comprehensive services for both body and mind.
“That’s one of the beauties of this,” care manager Rhonda Chronister said. “It begins with nursing, with the healing and the medical care and making sure our patients are healthy, but then it goes so much further – and that gives you such a feeling of satisfaction, to be able to help people in so many ways.”
Chronister is one of two current CC-HAN nursing professionals serving patients. Karen McKeever is her mentor and backbone of the non-profit health network, a care manager but also co-founder of the organization, along with former project/care manager and longtime nursing professional Rosemary Klepper.
“There was just a huge gap in service, a real need for these patients and for their families, who were not being taken care of or served,” McKeever said. “We knew how important it was for them to have someone they could turn to – as nurses, we needed to be there not only to treat them but to guide them and help with whatever challenges they were facing.”
That’s exactly what CC-HAN has done since its 2011 launch. Initially available in Canadian County, the organization is now available to SoonerCare patients and their families across central Oklahoma, working improve their health and healthcare options and much more.
CC-HAN provides care management to patients not only facing financial constraints that can limit their ability to get the medical treatment they might need, but also those who deal with complex health issues – they might have cancer, be dealing with a high-risk pregnancy, have depression or are battling tobacco, alcohol or drug dependence issues. The team also has a proactive approach, guiding patients to the right resources for well child examinations and care, injury and accident prevention, diet and nutrition and accessible medical and dental care.
But, the doctor’s office or emergency room is just a starting point for CC-HAN’s care managers. They also work on a more personal level, guiding families who might need food or gas money to make it to their doctor’s appointments, helping to address issues that might interfere with or disrupt treatment.
“That’s the bottom line – making sure they are healthy and able to live their lives and do what they need to do,” McKeever said. “Someone who’s dealing with a mental health issue can have a ripple effect on their entire family, and that family might need guidance in how to help and to make sure it doesn’t negatively impact others, either mentally or physically.”
Those patients needs have meant CC-HAN’s services have grown as much as its geographical service areas. Chronister spearheaded an asthma improvement program since she joined the network in 2013, focusing primarily on young patients who have struggled with conditions that didn’t only impact their physical well-being, but also impacted them in other ways, such as holding them back in school because they were too unwell to regularly attend, Chronister said.
“It’s about education, about getting supplies – we have donated supplies like nebulizers and other equipment,” she said. “We get them stable, work to keep them out of the emergency room, keep them out of urgent care.”
Today, the asthma program services about 36 patients; in the process, care managers have tracked a significant drop in the number of emergency room visits and marked improvement in school and work attendance for those taking part. In fact, the program – among others undertaken by the organization – has proved so successful, CC-HAN is looking for more nurses to serve those it is so dedicated to helping.
Successes also mean Chronister can focus on a new specialty, a behavioral health program focused on helping patients whose scores on the Motivational Index cause them significant issues in dealing not only with unexpected or serious challenges, but, perhaps more significantly, just everyday life.
“There is a huge gap in services and help for these patients, and they need someone to help guide them through – to get them the treatment they need, make sure they stay on their medications, make sure they make their appointments,” Chronister said.
“What we do is everything that’s the best of nursing – helping people who truly need it and giving that care, that guidance,” McKeever said. “As a nurse, it’s so fulfilling and inspirational, and to me it’s what our profession is all about.”
For more information about Central Communities Health Access Network, its services or philosophy, look online at www.cc-han.com.