Barber Shops, Food Pantries Help States Reach Uninsured
Health officials and specialists nationwide are making efforts "to address glaring disparities in U.S. health care" by expanding health screenings and lifestyle education programs to places where uninsured and low-income residents most often gather, the AP/USA Today reports.
A number of states are conducting education programs for barbers and beauticians to help them teach their clients about stroke symptoms and the importance of screenings, while many churches are hosting blood pressure exams and health education fairs.
The Medical College of Wisconsin in a partnership with Columbia St. Mary's Hospital in Milwaukee recently launched a nine-month study to determine whether chronic disease management services offered at food pantries can improve the health of patrons, according to AP/USA Today. The $450,000 charity-sponsored project will continue for three years and will target common chronic ailments including diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. It aims to offer screenings to 2,500 patients.
Patients will be required to pay for a part of the services and medications, and those who are seriously ill will be referred for advanced care. Jim Sanders of MCW said that for $4 or $5, patients can receive a month's supply of low-cost generic hypertension or cholesterol drugs. Health care officials also will register qualified patients for Medicaid and other health care programs, AP/USA Today reports.
Georges Benjamin of the American Public Health Association said, "The most important principle here is going where the people are," adding, "There no reason you can't do immunizations there, no reason you can't do nutritional counseling there. ... It makes a lot of sense" (Neergaard, AP/USA Today, 12/25/07).