Last month we received a call from University of Incarnate Word’s (UIW) Feik School of Pharmacy with an invitation to collaborate at an upcoming health fair.
UIW’s School of Pharmacy and Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions are dedicated partners of the Health Collaborative, strengthening ties during the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, when we joined forces to mobilize COVID-19 vaccine clinics in neighborhoods with low access all across Bexar County. Together, we've hosted hundreds of pop-up clinics and vaccinated thousands to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities healthy.
On this occasion, pharmacy students called to say they had discovered the majority of UIW's contracted housekeeping staff are uninsured, significantly limiting their access to healthcare. Concerned about the wellbeing of this critical and beloved campus team, National Hispanic Pharmacists Association (NHPA) students proactively coordinated a health event to connect staff to on-the-spot, no-cost health services and information. Familiar with our collaborations,Nelizza Ortiz, Vice-President of NHPA student chapter, called Health Collaborative to get involved.
This unique health fair was conveniently held on UIW campus during work hours to make it easy for staff to attend. Through a series of sit-down stations in the UIW Student Center Ballroom, students presented educational information on multiple disease states and provided various health screening services, such as blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol. Housekeeping staff rotated through the various health stations and enjoyed lunch provided by NHPA.
Health insurance makes a difference in whether and when people get necessary medical care, where they get their care, and ultimately, how healthy they are. Uninsured people are far more likely than those with insurance to postpone health care or forgo it altogether, reports the Kaiser Family Foundation. The consequences can be severe, particularly when preventable conditions or chronic diseases go undetected.
Our Community Health Workers shared COVID-19 prevention & treatment information, answered questions, and gave out free COVID-19 home tests & facemasks to each guest. Health Collaborative Navigators spoke with each guest about enrollment opportunities in Medicaid, CHIP and Affordable Care Act plans so that they can schedule appointments with a doctor and receive affordable care and medications.
During one of the health screenings, a pharmacy student identified a guest as having pre-diabetes.
Through a coordinated approach, she was matched with Navigator, Patricia Rangel. "My first thought was she needs health care and insurance right away!" remembered Patricia. The guest had not been insured or received healthcare for over a year. Patricia provided the guest with on-the-spot enrollment into an affordable health plan, with a referral to UIW’s Cardinal Wellness Center for a follow-up appointment. "My experience was how ironic that our team is here at this time right now. The consumer was in shock. Amazed that we were here at her time of need."
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. People with diabetes are also more likely to have serious complications from COVID-19, which could mean hospitalization. Through the Health Collaborative's Pathways to Coverage program, this guest will have ongoing, no-cost access to a Navigator who can guide her in using her specific health plan. This means support in locating doctors or specialists, resolving eligibility or coverage issues, and guidance in how to manage the financial side of a health plan such as monthly payments and tax season.
Without access to affordable health care, managing conditions such as prediabetes, diabetes and COVID-19 is very challenging and may result in expensive hospitalizations and poorer health outcomes. The good news is that if you have prediabetes, doctors can help you make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems. Your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 is likely to be lower if your diabetes iswell-managed.