Elizabeth Doney Havre Daily News email@example.com
The Hill County Health Consortium is slated to meet Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bullhook Clinic meeting room in the Courthouse Annex Building. Organized by Cindy Smith, director of the Bullhook Clinic, the consortium meets the third Friday of every month to determine progress in the goals set for 2007. The last meeting was held on Jan. 19. With a commitment to working with and in the community to provide collaborative health care for Hill County, various teams and subcommittees join together to discuss their activities and share ideas. Another part of the agenda are discussions for local issues or concerns and possible solutions and efforts by the consortium. This year, several organizations are working together to provide services ranging from immunization, dental, hearing and vision screening, respite care, mental health and dental coverage to children in Hill County. The annual child find team is working on the huge undertaking of their four-day affair that screens 200 to 300 infants and toddlers for hearing, vision and dental to get them ready for preschool or kindergarten. This year, the team is determined to figure out a format for tracking statistics that will determine how many children were offered or provided services as a result of child find. A dental, hearing and vision team has been fruitfully working on a instructional manual for new parents to take home with them from the delivery rooms of Northern Montana Hospital. The manual is made possible by a school readiness grant which will produce 500 booklets with important information such as immunization, well-child check ups, child care, safe sleeping, feeding and an emphasis stressing no bottle propping. The booklets will be distributed by March with a endearing keepsake of the new baby’s footprints on the back. The consortium, as a whole, has also been working on a one-stop file folder organization, called “family folders” that hold all important documentation for family records including identification, family medical history, insurance, developmental history and more. The family folders are sold at less than cost at $10 for individual families. “Originally we put together 250 family folders. The individual files were printed here in town, and consortium members and volunteers helped put the folders together,” Pam Burke of the Bullhook Clinic said. “Basically, the family folders are a file system or record keeping tool to help parents who are working with professional, educational, medical fields with a systemic way to keep track of all records in one handy folder.” Another consortium member, the Kid’s Management Authority is in the process of getting the program’s policies and procedures established. KMA meets the second Wednesday of very month at Noon in Havre, Fort Belknap and rocky Boy and is a coordinated effort to get together and provide the whole group of services that families may need together including mental health. “We’re finding a lot of kids who do not qualify for medicaid and whose parents cannot afford to send their children to mental health care,” said coordinator Andy Everingham. “These kids are falling through the cracks parents struggle to know what there is, as far as services, for their children out in the community.” KMA is specifically designed for children who are in and out of home placement with a primary target age of 6-8, serving children until they are 18 or graduate and will begin staffing children in the first of next year. Respite care for children and elderly parents is an item on the consortium agenda that will be worked on throughout 2007. Respite Care is currently provided every Friday at the Senior Center and the consortium hopes to get together to increase home training for caregiving, discharge planning and safety checklists for senior companions to go through with their clients. “It’s the gap area of health coverage that we are addressing,” Smith said. “Medication alone confuses people, we need to have a sole purpose to address and meet the needs of respite care for children and elderly in Hill County at their request.” It was also decided by the consortium that dental care for Medicaid and CHIPS children is an issue that needs to be addressed for the Hi-Line. Discussion by participants included Medicaid helping the Hi-Line with dental care with the end result of funding a dentist in Great Falls, miles away from families needed dental services on the Hi-line. Dr. Shelby of Havre is currently accepting a limited number of CHIPS patients who can be seen at his Havre office. According to Smith, “Dental health is still a big problem in the Havre community. We’ve had a problem getting a dentist to see patients who are on Medicaid or CHIPS. We’ve had dentists say that they accept CHIPS, but when you call they say they are not accepting any new clients.” Smith says the problem may be that the dentists are already overloaded with patients or that Medicaid and CHIPS reimbursements are so poor. It was also brought up that children needing urgent care do not have good oral health habits and may be a factor that dentists consider in patient screening. CHIPS currently pays $412 a year per child for dental coverage and calls for dental providers to write off 15 percent of the coverage, meaning the dentist will receive $350 of the $412 per year of dental coverage. “If a child needs more than the allowed cost per year, the dentists work with the family to try to span the care across two years,” said Jackie Forba, CHIP Bureau Chief. “There is currently a bill House Bill 198 by Rep. William Jones of Bigfork being heard in the House to make funds available for children who have high dental needs. Jones is a dentist and a wonderful man, we hope this bill passes.” Another subcommittee of the Health Consortium has formed “Connect the Dots” which is an informative PowerPoint presentation that is now also available on DVD that features programs and their available services for children. Connect the Dots currently features the Child Care Link, Head Start, Hill County Health Department, Havre Public Schools, Northern Montana Hospital, Quality Life Concepts and the Chippewa Cree Tribal TANF Program. Interested programs or individuals can become a part of Connect the Dots by attending their monthly meetings on the first Wednesday of every month at HRDC. For more information about the Hill County Health Consortium, please contact Pam Burke or Cindy Smith at 265-5481, ext. 266.