Public Health Seeks to Continue Care Coordination

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

In response to the Community Health Needs Assessment, the Muscatine County Department of Public Health has worked to provide care coordination services to help those diagnosed with diabetes and obesity. Monday, Jan. 27, Christy Roby Williams, Director of Public Health, spoke to the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors to share the benefits of the program and to request an additional $23,500 to fund it.

After the Community Health Needs Assessment identified diabetes and obesity rates as higher than average in Muscatine County, Public Health instituted a care coordination program. From the results of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol screenings conducted across the county at different events, those that qualified as high risk for diabetes or obesity then went to the care coordinator. The coordinator then examined additional information available about the people screened to determine if they could benefit from available services. The coordinator then puts those who could utilize services in touch with providers to ensure they get the care they needed. Last year alone, Muscatine County’s care coordinator managed more than 800 cases.

Along with helping individuals get the help they need, Williams detailed that having a care coordinator saves the county money every year. She said, “You and I may be able to access the services we need. You know the right questions to ask, but what happens is when individuals don’t, they end up in the ED. They end up utilizing transportation through our emergency medical services. They end up going to our county and asking for dollars to help cover bills or housing or anything else that they can’t cover because now their medical bills are large proportions.”

At the end of February, Williams shared that a new federally qualified health center, Community Health Care, will open at 1616 Cedar Street. A satellite office of the group’s larger practice in Davenport, the center will have a nurse practitioner in family practice as well as dental services. Williams looks forward to collaborating with them to continue providing help to those dealing with diabetes or obesity and to putting them in contact with other local partners who can assist with that work, including the Hy-Vee dietitian, the Muscatine Diabetes Project, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Williams approached the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors for additional help funding the care coordinator’s position because Public Health no longer receives the funding sources it originally did when they created the position in the past. Previously, Public Health received money from the state, which originally came from federal Medicare funds, to pay the care coordinator’s salary. About a year ago, the state stopped receiving that money and thus stopped providing it to Public Health. Though Public Health could fund the care coordinator for several months, they could not fully pay that salary for the entire year.

Though the Board of Supervisors did not vote on approving the additional funding at the Jan. 27 meeting, they seemed receptive to the idea and may add it to the agenda of a future meeting.

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