Samaritan focuses on community health needs

Your health shouldn’t depend on where you live.

Access to health care, housing in safe neighborhoods, quality education and gainful employment can improve health outcomes.

This is why each year Samaritan distributes Social Responsibility Grants help local nonprofit organizations identify and remove barriers, including poverty and discrimination, that affect underserved communities and populations. In 2022, $400,000 in social responsibility grants have been awarded.

Meanwhile, Samaritan programs, including the Homeless Resource Team, Samaritan Medical Group Geriatrics Medicine and Samaritan Care Hub, reach some of the most vulnerable people living in Benton, Lincoln and Linn counties.

“Access to health care is a significant barrier in our region,” said Kristy Jessop, MDSenior Medical Director of Primary Care for Samaritan Medical Group.

Samaritan’s Population Health Services uses the data to better understand community needs and address barriers, such as child care, transportation, food or housing insecurity and
other challenges.

“We still have a long way to go, but I’m excited about our growth and initiatives,” said Dr. Jessop.

Helping seniors live better

Medical advances have allowed people to live longer and the geriatric population is growing. However, we do not necessarily live better, said Maureen Bruns, MDwith Samaritan Medical Group Geriatric Medicine.

“There are people who are almost chronically hospitalized,” Dr. Bruns said.

Since 2015, a team of Samaritan specialists in geriatrics has ensured that people living in residences receive the best care without leaving their homes. Clinicians can respond around the clock to see patients at five residential facilities for the elderly, including veterans, people recovering from serious illness or injury, people with memory impairments and people without family to take care of them.

“Our patients are often very sick,” Dr. Bruns said. “By having a dedicated geriatrics team, we can avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and transport. »

Medical proximity prolongs care

Homeless people may be unable to do what they need to do to stay healthy. Those who have suffered trauma, manage multiple health conditions or have complex diagnoses, such as diabetes or heart disease, and the elderly may be particularly at risk. Sometimes people are hesitant to seek health care, including LGBTQ, Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

The Samaritan Homeless Outreach Team is a dedicated group of nurses, social workers and community health workers. The team visits clients wherever they live, in tents, in
shelters, even in cars.

“We meet patients where they are, literally,” said social worker Anita Earl, who leads the homeless outreach team.

The team receives referrals from hospitals and clinics to help people find housing, receive food, additional nutrition and transportation assistance, and attend medical appointments if people are reluctant to attend. go alone.

“We connect people to resources and services,” Earl said. “It can really make a difference in their lives.”

The collaboration includes clinics

Samaritan primary care clinics are being redesigned to provide care more efficiently. This includes screening for risk factors known as the social determinants of health, these are non-medical conditions that can affect a person’s health.

This information is made available to a person’s healthcare team so they can help people solve problems, such as what a person with diabetes can do if they don’t have a fridge to store insulin.

Stephanie Maxon, vice president of clinical operations at Samaritan, said the goal was to help people stay healthy.

“We want to catch them between walking well and increasing risk,” Maxon said.

This includes helping people avoid gaps in insurance coverage. Samaritan becomes a community service partner with the Oregon Health Authority to directly enroll people in Medicaid insurance.

Samaritan has also added a new alcohol and drug counselor to meet with people newly diagnosed with a substance use disorder. The counselor will contact people in the emergency department or clinics, inform them of the services and resources available, and work with primary care providers to establish a treatment plan.

“What we do know is that people don’t always follow up on their own behalf,” Maxon said. “We can help them with that. We can do better. »

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