$1.9 million grant launches Wyandotte County health effort

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(KANSAS CITY, Kan., AP) โ€” Wyandotte County is using a $1.9 million three-year grant from a Minnesota-based nonprofit to try and improve the health of 10,000 residents.
The county, which consistently ranks among the least healthy in Kansas, has used the grant to fund seven community health workers who are helping residents do such things as find an affordable primary care doctor, get prescriptions and receive transportation, food stamps and housing assistance, the Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/2aNUPzM ).
The grant began in April and is from the United Health Foundation, which supports health-related programs.
Although the percentage of uninsured Wyandotte County residents has dropped from 26 percent to 18 percent since the Affordable Care Act took effect two years ago, Wyandotte County still ranks last in the state’s 2016 county health rankings, Mayor Mark Holland said.
“I don’t like being last,” Holland said at an event highlighting the health initiative.
The county’s health challenges are obvious from statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UnitedHealthcare spokeswoman Jessica Kostner said. Nearly 13 percent of county residents are diabetic, 11 percent have asthma and 35 percent have high blood pressure. Only 57 percent reported having a medical home or usual source of primary care, significantly lower than the state average of 72 percent.
Many people who don’t have primary care physicians use emergency rooms for non-emergency health issues or don’t seek any treatment.
Some who recently obtained health insurance still need help navigating the health care system, said Jerry Jones, executive director of the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, which partnered on the project with the Missouri-based Kansas City Care Clinic.
Health clinics and hospitals refer potential clients to the council, and its workers have been handing out fliers with contact information. They also have been trained to help the county’s diverse residents, including refugees and non-English speakers.
The initiative’s goal is to teach people skills to manage their own healthy living so they don’t need the community workers anymore, said Dennis Dunmyer, a vice president with the Kansas City Care Clinic.
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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com