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By Traci Chapman
A countywide effort is making health care more accessible for those who could need it most.
Canadian County Health Access Network was born in 2011 of a federal initiative to improve delivery of SoonerCare and Medicaid, said project/case manager Rosemary Klepper.
“We are expanding, although right now we have five primary care doctors in the network,” Klepper said Monday. “We’re new, young now, so we’ve got lots of room to grow.”
The program’s five participating physicians – Dr. Vladimir Holy in El Reno, Dr. Gerald Amundsen in Mustang and Drs. Catherine Flores, Javier Flores and Alecia Hanes, all of Yukon – come to the table with various specialties to offer local patients. Holy and Amundsen are general practitioners, while Catherine and Javier Flores and Hanes are pediatricians, Klepper said.
The program is simple yet diversified, Klepper said. On one side, Klepper and part-time care manager Karen McKeever work to match patients not only with physicians, but also with other resources that can help them. Doctors can refer patients to the network, as can clergy, school officials and individuals themselves searching for help, Klepper said.
That’s when the network comes to life. From doctor’s appointments, to preventative care to finding food and other needs, HAN pulls together information and provides help to people who might not be able to find it otherwise, she said. Help is available by phone and in person, as needed, and the network has a website that features answers to questions and informative videos.
“As an example, we recently had a family with a Down syndrome baby,” Klepper said. “They needed help, they didn’t know where to turn and we were able to help them with what the resources were and how they could get assistance for their needs, not only with that child but also with five others.”
That case was one in which HAN’s partnerships with other agencies helped with a wide spectrum of needs, Klepper said. The program routinely works with specialists at Red Rock Behavioral Center, county health department, Gary E. Miller Canadian County Children’s Justice Center and others, she said.
“We wanted to get our whole county more connected so people can see what resources are available,” Klepper said. “We wanted to see community health services integrated.”
While medical conditions are targeted, preventative care is also a key and that’s where HAN’s partnerships are even more important, Klepper said. Organizations like Canadian County against Tobacco coalition can provide information that can help battle chronic illness and help prevent the onset of disease, which in turn can save lives.
“And that’s what we’re really all about – helping others,” she said.
Funded through the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority, the network operates under the nonprofit wing of the Partnership for a Healthy Canadian County, the entity which operated the now-suspended El Reno Community Clinic, Klepper said. Eventually, Klepper said she hoped to see services expanded with grants and other resources.
The health access network concept is not only new to Canadian County. One of only three health care networks across the state, the local program differs even from its two Oklahoma counterparts. Those networks, University of Oklahoma Tulsa and Oklahoma State University, also in Tulsa, utilize their own doctors, which is a different concept than that practiced in Canadian County, Klepper said.
“Theirs are large networks,” Klepper said. “Ours is unique – we have independent practicing doctors, while they do not.”
While Canadian County’s network is small, doctors involved receive benefits for participating, Klepper said. Physicians recently received electronic medical record training and receive federal reimbursement for implementing those systems, she said.
The bottom line is providing real information people can use in their everyday lives, Klepper said.
“When we talk about what we’re here for – we’re here to improve the quality of care to our members and increase their access to care,” she said.
For more information, call Klepper at 657-0725 or go online to http://cc-han.com/.