The Columbia Gorge Community Health Council, in partnership with PacificSource Community Solutions, recently announced that over $1.3 million in one-time “transformative investments” have been awarded to local health care and promotion services around the gorge.
PacificSource, which serves Oregon Medicaid clients through coordinated care organizations, and The Columbia Gorge Health Council, a body composed of community leaders from Wasco and Hood River counties, work together to “guide the area’s coordinated care organization [and] develop strategies to address the needs of the poor and vulnerable in the region.”
In their Feb. 28 joint press release, it states that the function of the Columbia Gorge Health Council is “to recommend and guide solutions and improvements to the region’s healthcare system,” and that the recently awarded grant funding “will promote high quality healthcare [and allow] patients to have a more convenient, better coordinated and more cost-effective experience.”
According to the state health reform website, before coordinated health care organizations (CCOs), physical, behavioral and many other types of care services were separated, and that this method “made things more difficult for patients and providers,” as well as “more expensive for their state” to maintain.
Instead, it says CCOs “are better able to coordinate services and focus on prevention,” as they aim to meet what the state has dubbed the “triple aim” of better health, care and lower costs for the populations they serve.
Of the 52 proposals for the grant funding that were received by the Columbia Gorge Community Health Council, Molly Rogers, the Wasco County-appointed representative on the council, reported that 22 of them have been accepted and subsequently funded.
Among the grant recipients is the Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH) program. Certification through the program, according to the press release, enables primary clinics to better meet the needs of patients by placing medical professionals like pharmacists, counselors and health coaches directly into existing clinic teams in an effort to “streamline” the care process.
In answer to a question concerning the “one-time” nature of the grant funding posed by Wasco County Commission Chair Scott Hege at the March. 5 board meeting, Rogers said “the transformation dollars are part of the Oregon Health Authority’s investment in CCOs and function as a one-time infusion which will help us jump-start the integration process and will continue to serve as an investment in the improvement of the overall system.”
Along with integrating pharmacists and other professionals into the clinics, Rogers said that the CCO model also aims to better coordinate other social services that are available in the community.
“One example of this would be that when someone is discharged from the hospital who is also identified as being medically fragile, we would be able to sign them up for meal deliveries from Meals on Wheels to make their recovery process easier. It’s all about better meeting the needs of the people we serve in a more comprehensive, holistic way.”
Many of the grant proposals, the release states, were issued by community members who sought to “work beyond traditional health care domains to improve the health of the community.” and that both PacificSource and the Columbia Gorge Community Health Council hope to implement more of these projects in the future.
However, transformation dollars are currently going towards funding the Community Action Coalition for Reducing Childhood Obesity, training for social service providers on emotional literacy for children via YouthThink, and outreach efforts for new Oregon Health Plan members as well as re-enrollment support for those that are already in the program.
Rogers said the council’s next steps are to learn as much as it can from the recently conducted community-wide health assessment and to use the findings to “drive the development of the community health improvement plan” at the next meeting scheduled for March 20.
For more information about the transformation funding and where it’s going, contact council Chair Karen Joplin at (541) 684-5283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.