Innovative solutions to today’s healthcare crisis

by | January 31, 2007 12:00 am

By PAT COLLINS

By PAT COLLINS

Access Emanuel, our local healthcare assistance program for the uninsured, continues its projected growth pattern. Now into its 10th year, the program provides comprehensive medical care for uninsured Emanuel County residents between the ages of 19 and 65 whose household income falls below 200 percent of the federal poverty index.

Access Emanuel, the brainchild of several Swainsboro physicians, was the first program of its kind in the State of Georgia. Since then Jenkins, Treutlen, Richmond and Hall counties have begun similar healthcare programs. However, not all have survived. As part of this innovative non-profit program, local physicians, the hospital, clinics and pharmacies donate services on a sliding scale fee to qualified individuals who do not have health insurance. As word gets out, more and more of those patients without basic access to regular primary health care, preventive screenings, and prescription medications afforded by health insurance are making use of this muchneeded resource.

Since its beginning, Access Emanuel has provided primary and some specialty care services for more than 6,315 residents of Emanuel County. Current enrollees average 4.5 provider office encounters per patient, a figure that changes daily.

Those who do not have health insurance and are unable to receive Medicaid or Medicare total onefourth of Emanuel County’s population. The Access Emanuel program is a last resort for those who cannot get insurance of any kind. If insurance is available through any other means, an applicant is required to apply for it and assistance is provided.

The strength and core of this unique medical program is the good will and benevolence of the local medical community. The program is not an “entitlement” set up, but a program whereby Emanuel County’s medical community strives to help give the people a chance for better health.

This past year Access Emanuel, along with Emanuel Medical Center and the Mill Creek Foundation, began sponsoring a variety of free health screenings. Plans are to offer at least one screening a quarter in different locations in Emanuel County. All Access Emanuel participants are required to attend at least one free screening during the year.

“It’s to their benefit that they take advantage of all free screenings, but we require that they come to at least one,” said David Oglesby, current Chairman of the Board of Directors. The next free screening is scheduled for Tuesday, February 27th from 4 to 7 p.m. at Twin City Rural Health Clinic in Twin City. Evaluations of blood pressure, Body Mass Index (height & weight), glucose/diabetes and family history will be given during this screening. Call 478-763-3036 for an appointment. For more information, contact Access Emanuel’s office at 478-289-2477.

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