The Black Health Care Coalition (BHCC) is a 27-year-old nonprofit organization deeply committed to the adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (Benjamin Franklin).
While we aim to prevent chronic illness, our staff and medical volunteers understand and value the opportunity to provide secondary prevention and effectively serve those living with diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. BHCC Patient Navigators and Care Coordination Nurses worked with over 3,000 uninsured residents in the Greater Kansas City area last year striving to achieve three goals:
- Making personal health a priority. Often times when topics of health are brought up in mainstream conversations and mass media, the central focus is framed broadly with messages of do’s and don’ts or larger policy matters such as expanding Medicaid, or the Marketplace Health Care Exchange. Making personal health a priority is sometimes lost and the need to help people focus on their health while fighting to make ends meet is a significant yet surmountable challenge. Staff and volunteers work tirelessly on social factors that impede one’s ability to address health needs including transportation; employers who do not offer paid time off; childcare; utility assistance; housing; and the list goes on….
- Designating a medical home. Many of the clients we serve go years without seeing a physician and receiving annual exams. In addition, those who have seen a provider do not regularly visit the same provider or network because they may use the Emergency Room versus a primary care network, convenience factors or inability to pay past due medical bills. Health literacy and defining what a medical home is, benefits and knowing which facilities are Patient Center Medical Home is essential. Ensuring those living with chronic illness have a designated medical home is key in preventing complications and improving quality of life.
- Patient compliance. Without securing the first two items above, it is nearly impossible to ensure clients follow through with provider visits and treatment plans. BHCC staff work to meet people where they are and gradually coach clients to a place where they are taking charge and carefully adhering to what is in the best interest of their health and well-being.
These three “little” points may seem nice, neat and stress-free… working to achieve health equity is quite the challenge! Our philosophy, “Service above self” and unequivocally knowing that our work has saved lives makes the rugged journey worthwhile.