Wednesday, February 4, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Community Health Programs help in more than one way

By JJ Andersen

The Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM) runs the Community Health Programs (CHP) to help save lives and save families money. The OU-COM was generous enough to fund the CHP with $1 million dollars in 2008.

The Childhood Immunization Program
Families unaware of the immunization program and what it offers, need to pay attention. Not only is the immunization program caring for local kids health, it's allowing families to save on insurance costs during this tough economic time.

CHP nurse Lynn Smith highlights the advantages of CHP

Budget Cuts
As state-funded services deal with budget cuts, locals shouldn't pass up these opportunities. While faculty and officials expect no changes to the Community Health Programs, it would be selfish to take them for granted. The OU College of Medicine faces $300,000 in budget cuts.

If funding is decreased for these programs, I worry it will only take a short time before programs are removed completely. Nurse coordinator, Lynn Smith, suggests that trend has been true in the past, "We’ve had to discontinue many of our clinics that we did in other counties. We covered 21 counties originally and we had to cut back dramatically. 8 to 9 today."

The Future
CHP Director Kathy Trace says they're in the "watching and waiting" stage of things. Trace went on to say the programs' services are being reviewed for the budget cuts and as of now more information is needed before determining the future of the Community Health Programs. While Trace's optimism is encouraging, one has to question whether CHP could escape the current round of budget cuts.

CHP nurse Lynn Smith says vaccinations can run anywhere from $50 to $150. "Many people are not aware of the actual costs of the vaccines. It’s a situation in many times they go to the doctor’s the vaccination gets billed to the insurance, many times they don’t have any real concept of how much money it really costs to get these vaccines administered. So are they all aware of what a great deal they getting here? I don’t believe so," Smith said.

You heard it yourself everyone. It's time to take advantage of the immunization program and other CHP's before the budget ax might fall. If lower income families aren't using these resources, it's possible that their importance to the community will be underestimated. Here's the list of other Community Health Programs:

- Car Seat Program
- Healthy Adult Program
- Parental Services & Baby Steps Program
- Tuberculosis Prevention Program
- Well Child/ Well Families

For more information you can also call (740) 593-2432.

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