FULTON, NY – In a rural area such as Oswego County the importance of connecting those in need of health care with providers is a challenge.
Thanks to the efforts of Oswego County Opportunities that challenge is being met.
The manner in which that need is being met will be shared with health care providers and agencies throughout New York State when OCO health educators Toni Ross, and Julia Preston-Fulton present “Connecting Consumers to Rural Health Care” at the New York State Association for Rural Health’s annual conference in Geneva.
The presentation, which mirrors the NYSARH mission to lead and collaborate on issues affecting the health and well-being of New York’s rural residents, will focus on the partnership OCO’s health educators have formed with OCO’s Health Services and its reproductive health providers.
The partnership offers consumers a variety of services from transportation to education.
“Transportation to and from medical appointments is one of the biggest barriers to people receiving the health care they need,” said Preston-Fulton. “Our program makes it much easier for those in rural areas to access reproductive health care. We help consumers with both transportation and scheduling. If they are unable to find a ride there is no need to cancel an appointment. A health educator will provide transportation eliminating the need for cancelations and rescheduling appointments. It’s an arrangement that benefits both the consumer and the provider.”
In addition to transportation OCO health educators provide consumers with other vital services.
Consumers are able to easily schedule appoints by phone, text, or through OCO’s Health Services Facebook page.
Health educators also provide consumers with answers to their reproductive health questions, quick access to health care providers, and approval of distribution of Plan B through OCO’s providers.
“During transportation and while setting appointments we are able to further educate and prepare consumers for their appointment so that they are less apprehensive to see a doctor,” added Ross. “Following their appointment we debrief with the consumer by asking them how their visit went, what was discussed, and help them process the information they received. We even take them to the pharmacy if they need to pick up a prescription.”
One reason the program has been so successful is the open line of communication that exits between the different departments of OCO Health Services.
Sharing an office with health providers and regular meetings with providers and their staff with health educators fosters a productive and successful relationship.
Health educators have the luxury of being able to spend more time with consumers than a doctor and can provide pre and post education to help consumers understand the process and their decisions.
“OCO health providers recognize that our health educators are knowledgeable and well educated. They know they can rely on us for accurate information regarding any referrals we may make. This communication has also allowed us to develop an excellent rapport with our providers’ support staff in regards to scheduling and insurance issues. It’s a true partnership. We have the same goals, people to get the reproductive health care they need,” explained Preston.
OCO Health Services is one of just nine agencies state wide to present at the conference.
It marks the first time that OCO has received this honor.
A not-for-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization, NYSARH works to preserve and improve the health of the citizens in rural New York State.
Its membership includes representatives of all facets of the rural health care industry, as well as individuals and students that serve individuals, consumers, non-profit organizations, health care facilities, emergency medical service providers, long-term care organizations, and other stakeholders in rural health.
“We are excited to be a part of this year’s conference and are looking forward to educating other health care providers in rural areas of New York State and sharing with them the process of establishing a similar program in their area and the benefits that it has for their providers and their consumers. Our hope is that our presentation will open peoples’ minds to the idea that they can work together to improve health care delivery in rural areas,” Preston said.