SONOMA COUNTY: New Program to Provide Medical Care to Uninsured Children
The Children's Health Network, a new program sponsored by the Sonoma County Medical Association, kicked off what organizers hope will be the first step in an effort to provide medical care to "thousands of uninsured and under-insured Sonoma County children," reports the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. The "mostly volunteer effort" started this week with a pilot project at a Santa Rosa public grade school, Lincoln School, which will arrange for children in need to see one of 11 family practice physicians who have volunteered for the program. According to the Press Democrat, health officials estimate that 30% of the 73,000 people in Sonoma County without health insurance are children. Organizers hope to extend the Children's Health Network to other elementary schools and eventually middle and high schools "once the bugs are worked out of the pilot program." Andrea Michelsen, one of the program's two managers, said, "What we're doing will only scratch the surface of this problem at first, but at least it's something." Kris Brown, the school nurse at Lincoln School, said, "So many kids I see could benefit from seeing a doctor, but there really was no way for most of them. I'm thrilled to see this program come along. There's a huge need for it."
Inspiration and Remuneration From Others
The Sonoma County Medical Association, long aware of the need for medical care for uninsured children, modeled its efforts after the Pasadena's Young & Healthy program, which reached wider acclaim after a TV profile. The Sonoma Children's Health Network started with an $85,300 grant last year from the Pacific Foundation for Medical Care, a corporate cousin of Santa Rosa-based Health Plan of the Redwoods. Two smaller donations followed last week from the Codding Family Foundation and Norcal Mutual Insurance in San Mateo (Lauer, 5/8).