A Stark County Department of Health survey last year found that many women in the region faced barriers based on accessibility and bias when trying to get health care.
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Now, the first action to address these findings is to launch a “Dear Stark Women” resource center and launch a marketing campaign. The website can be found at dear-stark-women-starkcohealthoh.hub.arcgis.com.
The campaign’s website includes maps of clinics that take Medicaid or offer sliding payments, links to transportation options, and information about out-of-hours care providers, which were covered by women in the initial survey.
“Helping our community members meet their social, physical and mental health needs before, during and / or during pregnancy is the best way to improve the overall health of women, children and our community,” said Kay Conley, Director of Administration and Support Services. . announcement about the program.
47% of women delayed or skipped health care due to barriers to access
The original survey, which involved 303 women between the ages of 18 and 44 in Stark County, began as part of a grant from the Ohio Department of Health’s Department of Maternal and Child Health. The goal is to reduce child mortality, reduce chronic illness, and increase access to care.
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According to the survey, 47% of respondents skipped, canceled or postponed a health appointment due to an obstacle or a negative past experience. Some of the barriers mentioned were the lack of access to transportation, the inability to get out of work for a health appointment, and the challenges of finding cheap care.
Respondents in the survey also reported bias or negative interactions with health care providers, including incidents in which they believed their health concerns had been ignored or ignored.
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The Dear Stark Women campaign is aimed at the patient, with resources aimed at those seeking care. Kelly Potkay, Stark County Health Department accreditation coordinator and health educator, said provider training is underway.
“We are currently working with Alliance Family Health Center and My Community Health Center to supply [diversity, equity and inclusion] and cultural skills training for their providers and support staff, ”he said. We intend to continue to deliver. ”
Hoover students help
The Dear Stark Women campaign is an effort by the health agency, but it didn’t work alone. Through a work-based learning program at MentorStark and Hoover High School, six technology career students in biomedical science teamed up with the health department to come up with ideas to address the findings of the survey.
“I was interested in the project because I thought it was very important for women to have easy access to health care, because we have to deal with a lot of things in our daily lives, and I don’t think it’s necessary to get health care. -ek.
He, along with Sydney Pike and four other rising seniors, researched three areas for taking and improving survey information, namely transportation, care coordination and cultural capacity, and provided opportunities that the department could consider.
Pike tackled transportation and explored the accessibility of travel sharing apps like Uber and Lyft for those who don’t have access to public transportation. He said he was surprised to learn how difficult it can be to find accessible transportation.
“One of the things I found to be very interesting was how expensive some options can be, because a lot of insurance doesn’t cover these services in detail, and I think that’s because you definitely have to pay more because you didn’t get health care. if you can’t get into the center, ”Pike said.
Perry focused on cultural competence, and was thrilled to see that the design of the Dear Stark Women website was similar to some of the available resources he proposed to find and use.
Looking ahead, the Stark County Department of Health intends to continue using its survey information to address the health needs of women in the region.
“We are also planning a campaign to empower women to take care of the health care journey,” Potkay said. “Our hope is that this will help build the confidence that women need to defend themselves.”
Sam Zern can be reached at [email protected] or 330-580-8322. You can also find him on Twitter at @sam_zern.