Developing a Roadmap for Access to Care

NJHI 2016: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action, Round 2 Healthy Plainfield

In the process of developing our Blueprint for Action, the Healthy Plainfield coalition collected close to 1,000 surveys from people who work and/or live in Plainfield to help us identify our community’s top health concerns. One of the needs that stood out to us was access to care. We found that:

  • 31% of respondents did not have medical insurance, exceeding both the uninsured rates of Union County (15%) and NJ (12%).
  • 19% of respondents were unable to get their prescriptions filled, due to a lack of insurance.
  • 16% of respondents had difficulty accessing health literacy tools and medical services with providers who can communicate in their language.
  • 39% do not have a primary care physician and sought services elsewhere (e.g. emergency room).

Why is access to care important?

Some of the issues that result from lack of access include the community having a poor health status and delays in receiving care for preventable diseases, which can lead to untimely deaths.

Healthy People 2020 includes Access to Health Services as one of the “… high priority health issues that represent significant threats to the public’s health.” For our Plainfield community we ascertained that families need:

  1. Adequate health insurance coverage
  2. Access to available health care services.
  3. Access to health care providers whom the patients can communicate with in Spanish.

Some of the strategies we identified to address these barriers in Plainfield are:

  1. Increasing cultural competency training throughout the community.
  2. Engaging the Spanish speaking, faith-based community to reach the Hispanic community.
  3. Continuing our Healthy Connections program where the community’s Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) works with the JFK Emergency Department to ensure patients who use the emergency room have follow-up appointments and engage with a primary care physician when they are discharged.
  4. Ensuring all programs/flyers are also in Spanish to effectively engage the over 40% Spanish dominant residents. The Healthy Plainfield coalition has developed its logo in both English and Spanish to demonstrate our commitment to this strategy.

Health care in 2017 is moving toward wellness – not only treating illness. Identifying and addressing barriers to health will put Plainfield on the road to preventive care and to a better quality of life. Prevention is better and less costly than treatment. Read our full Blueprint for a Healthy Plainfield and share your thoughts with Atif Nazir or James Horne, our project co-directors.

The Grantee Blog publishes a different NJHI-supported community’s update every Monday. Bookmark this site to stay up-to-date and share in the work of building healthier communities across New Jersey.
Noreen Occhipinti, MSN, CEN, Assistant Nurse Manager, Satellite Emergency Dept
United Way of Greater Union County