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Grant will fund meals to heal

The Dalles Meals on Wheels will be providing meals to another segment of the population with the help of a one-time grant, part of health care funding provided through the PacificSource Columbia Gorge Coordinated Care Organization.

The regional organization was formed as part of health care reforms designed to more efficiently and effectively deliver care to people served by the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s Medicaid program. PacificSource and Columbia Gorge Health Council lead the organization.

The Meals on wheels funding is part of $1.3 million in one-time transformative investment in health promotion and local health care services in the greater Columbia Gorge area.

“The grants will promote high-quality healthcare that also allows patients to have a more convenient, better coordinated, and more cost-effective experience,” the grant announcement stated.

Meals on Wheels funding will help provide meal delivery for fragile patients following surgery.

“It’s for those folks who fall through the cracks,” Lowe said, and don’t have anybody to help feed them after surgery.

Meals on Wheels will provide up to two meals a day.

“It helps give a person an option besides a care facility,” Patton said, “by having someone help them in the place they have — and it’s a no cost to the client.”

“Nutrition helps them heal faster,” Lowe added.

The food program is a pilot for the Coordinated Care Organization. Patton and Lowe hope it will be successful and helping people heal faster and avoid returning to the hospital. If that happens, they hope the organization will continue to fund the program.

Meals on Wheels will also provide a welfare check of the client.

“There are things the driver has to look for in those particular patients,” Lowe said. “I think it’s going to work really, really well.”

“It’s absolutely needed in the community,” Patton added. “It can help keep the cost down.”

Hood River County Commissioner Karen Joplin shared information about the program at a March 14 CCO update attended by Governor John Kitzhaber. Joplin said Kitzhaber called it a “pearl.”

“He said he wanted to hear more pearls,” Joplin said, and he asked how the program was delivered.

She explained that it would be prescription-based meal delivery for post-op patients lacking home care.

“He wrote it all down and was really interested in it,” Joplin said. “I know he will remember it and take it with him.”

Joplin praised the program and its originator, Lowe, who also wrote the grant.

Among the other services, the transformation grants will fund are services through the Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH) program. The program allows primary care clinics to add professionals to their clinic teams such as pharmacists, counselors and health coaches.

The program will also help incorporate mental health specialists into primary care practices and create a technology network to provide secure information exchange among health care providers.

Transformation funds were also allocated to spur higher levels of support for people most at risk due to their health conditions or life situation. In addition to the meals program, those include using community health workers to help patients with complex conditions, expanding the number of peer support specialists and educating patients and providers on best practices for chronic pain management.

Other proposals involved work beyond traditional health care domains:

• Community Action Coalition for reducing childhood obesity,

• training for social services and providers on emotional literacy for children,

• outreach for new Oregon Health Plan members and re-enrollment support for continuing members.

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