Our Accomplishments as of September 1, 2018
Paramedic Program – This important emergency resource was started in 2000 with financial assistance from the Rural Health Network. Over a ten-year period, the Network provided nearly $1 million to support this program. Since 2000, the Paramedic Program has answered about 30,000 calls and, with the help of the Network, has become a self-sufficient asset to Greene County over the past years. The Paramedic program was named “Rural Program of the Year” in 2010 by the New York State Association of Rural Health. The Paramedic Program responds to the most serious emergencies such as heart attacks and vehicular crashes.
Practitioner Placement Program – According to Federal guidelines, our County needs the equivalent of about 15 primary care doctors. 20 years ago there were about 6 and now the County has about the recommended 15. The Network has helped to recruit and support 6 primary care doctors in Greene County, who provide an estimated 21,000 primary care visits each year. These doctors have been instrumental in helping promote patient health, prevent illnesses, and identify and treat health problems early. These doctors help prevent or mitigate the extent of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases. They also help people with tobacco cessation and weight loss, which are two of our deadliest lifestyles.
Healthy Weight Initiative – This program has sponsored 6 weight-loss contests in which over 2,000 people participated, and cash prizes were awarded to nearly 200 people; the 7th Anniversary Contest runs February 2019 – May 2019 followed by a 14-week weight-maintenance contest. Over 16,000 weight-loss and healthy weight ads have been run on TV and radio. The Network places significant emphasis on the contest because the people who enter it have taken perhaps the most important step – a mental commitment to losing weight and maintaining that loss. They are now receptive to eating less, exercising, and eating healthier. Our job is to provide them a set of activities to help them succeed – the contest’s friendly competition and group support, weight-loss strategies, weight-loss tips, walking activities, healthier diet, and primary care physician weight-loss counseling.
The Healthy Weight Initiative also sponsors indoor and outdoor (GreeneWalks) walking activities in which nearly 1,400 people have participated. It has created the first ever comprehensive map of all walking and biking trails in the County. It encouraged restaurants in the County to offer healthier meals, promoted farmer’s markets and road side stands, and is working with local schools to improve nutrition, exercise, and weight-loss among students.
School Based Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Education – As part of our goal to establish universal screening and counseling for behavioral health problems at patient-friendly sites, we contracted with Twin County Recovery Services to provide prevention education on drug abuse and alcohol abuse to at-risk pupil and refer them for counseling where indicated. Schools are requesting this type of service, given the drug abuse epidemic.
The program started in the Coxsackie-Athens District in school year 2016-17 and then expanded to include the Cairo-Durham District in 2017-18. Thus far, about 320 students have been referred to the program and have received prevention education in 645 sessions. Classroom presentations are also made.
Prevention Education and Outreach in the Community and Schools. We contracted with Twin County Recovery Services to schedule, develop, participate, and host events and activities throughout the County for the purpose of helping to prevent and reduce the incidence of alcohol and substance abuse problems. During the period January – August 2018, the program has been involved in multiple community events and has interacted with about 3,600 students and hundreds of adults.
Reducing Stigma – One of the big reasons people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs do not seek treatment is because of the stigma associated with these chronic diseases. We conduct a media campaign to improve public and patient understanding of alcohol and drug addictions as a chronic disease, show that recovery is possible, and that people can lead normal, productive lives. Thus, people with these problems will be more prone to seek counseling. We no longer address stigma about mental health because our household surveys show that most people do not harbor this particular stigma anymore. We have run about 3,800 TV and radio spots and we will be using digital advertising such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter; informing people through flyers inserted into Bank and Telephone statements and notifying the 1,500 people in our email data base.
Medication Drop – Boxes – People with prescription drugs in their homes could be unwittingly serving as a “drug supplier” to family or relatives. We will continue to promote the 5 medication drop boxes we have purchased and located throughout the County; Greene County has one of the highest numbers of drop boxes of any county in the State due to our efforts. These boxes are available to people who want to get rid of expired or unwanted prescription medications. The boxes are an effective means for helping address opioid abuse and have been extremely successful. To promote the availability of the boxes, we have run over 3,500 TV and radio spots and will begin using digital advertising.
School-Based Mental Health Counseling – Our schools are an excellent resource for screening adolescents and pre-adolescents for behavioral health problems since nearly all of them attend school. Moreover, teachers are an excellent resource for identifying children who may need behavioral health services. The Network, also in partnership with our County Mental Health Center, established a screening and counseling program available in three school districts. This program provides counseling to schoolchildren and their families right at the school the child attends, which improves access and participation levels. More than 600 counseling sessions are provided each year. We are working to expand the program into the other three districts.
Mobile Dental Health Van – A licensed dentist and dental hygienist brought dental treatment service to schools, health care centers, and other sites throughout Greene County. They filled cavities, extracted teeth and performed other services for about 100 children and 100 adults every year. Dental treatment services have been provided to about 1,500 children and adults during the time the Network provided funding.
Dental Sealants – The RHN educated over 500 third graders every year on good oral hygiene practices and then applied sealants and other preventive measures to those children who needed such services to help protect their teeth from decay. During the period 2003-2016, approximately 7,500 grade school children were educated on oral hygiene, and nearly 3,000 children were provided sealants and fluoride applications.
Improving Compliance with Health Screening Guidelines –Identifying health conditions early means that treatment can be provided early, which reduces human suffering and medical costs. One of our goals is to constantly improve compliance with the various screening guidelines. We have sponsored over 17,500 TV and radio ads, distributed personal checklists that contain screening guidelines for an entire family, and sponsored several health screening fairs. Compliance levels with many screening guidelines are high and have been improving, but we still need to encourage a notable portion of the public to obtain these tests given their huge impact on improving health status and lowering medical costs.
Insurance Coverage for Health Screening and Preventive Services – Due to the Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) nearly everyone now has health insurance. And, the ACA requires nearly all insurance plans to provide comprehensive preventive and early screening services with no co-payments or deductibles. Unfortunately, about 50% of consumers are unaware of this extensive coverage. Thus, we ran 1,400 TV and radio ads and 3 newspaper ads to raise awareness among the public about this unprecedented level of insurance coverage.
Enrolling Uninsured Children and Families for Health Insurance Coverage –The sad and frustrating fact is that nearly all of our uninsured children are eligible for coverage given existing State programs – Child Health Plus (CHP) and Medicaid. But, a large percentage of children remain unenrolled because many parents are either unaware of the programs, think they do not qualify or are unable to complete the forms. The Rural Health Network funded a staff person for three years to help enroll children into either Child Health Plus or Medicaid. Also, this staff person helped adults to enroll into Family Health Plus. Over the years, several hundred children and adults have obtained health coverage.
Promoting Health Care Providers –Greene County offers a wide range of high-quality health care services. Yet, our household surveys indicated that many residents and employers were unaware of the services or mistakenly regarded them as substandard. This lack of awareness fostered an attitude that our health care system was inferior, which needlessly disheartened the citizenry as well as discouraged prospective employers from locating here. A major information/educational campaign had been conducted over the years, including over 7,000 ads through TV, billboards, radio, and newspapers. Subsequent household surveys have shown that public awareness of our high-quality providers had steadily increased.
GreeneHealth has also provided funding to:
• Upgrade medical communications systems and train volunteer ambulance squads.
• Purchase asthma supplies for school children.
• Expand kidney dialysis services.
• Increase diabetes education and services.
• Improve the detection of breast cancer.
• Improve services for sexual assault victims.