Helping Those with Limited Resources Maintain Health
By Lisa Moore
According to government statistics, over 46 million Americans do not have medical insurance due to education, employment or income issues. There are many faces of uninsured: those laid off, self-employed, Cobra coverage has expired or is not affordable, part time workers, recent college grad, returning adult student or foreign visitors.
Because of the steep rise in unemployment, about 25% of adults in North Carolina, or 1.8 million people, are now uninsured, leaving many middle income families affected.
Care Ring (formerly Community Health Services) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing preventive health services for the uninsured, underinsured or thoseÂ otherwise lacking access to affordable, high-quality preventive health care. The organization annually serves more than 10,000Â people in Mecklenburg County and is a leader in a collaborative effort to improve community health.
“Care Ring serves people who fall through the cracks of the traditional healthcare system in Mecklenburg County by providing access to medical and dental care to the uninsured,” says Rachel Smith, Interim Executive Director.
The clinic also fills a new gap in healthcare services – those people without access to insurance or unable to afford private insurance who do not qualify for many of the healthcare services in the community.
Established in 1955, the organization was an early leader in heart disease prevention and work-site wellness. Through the years, Care Ring has expanded its focus to provide additional preventive health services to promote a holistic concept of personal, family, and community health and wellness.
Care Ring receives funding from grants, the United Way and private contributions from individuals, businesses and others. Donations are crucial to continuing Care Ring’s much-needed programs and services.
For every dollar donated to Care Ring, the organization is able to leverage $5 worth of donated care. $50 provides a month’s supply of diabetic testing strips for a low-income, uninsured client, while $250 provides a visit to the dentist for a child in pain from severe tooth decay.
Volunteers are the backbone for Care Ring’s vital work. There is a wide range of opportunities available for those who care to make a difference in Charlotte’s changing health care needs.
A comprehensive range of programs and services are offered through Care Ring. The low-cost clinic in uptown Charlotte offers basic primary care services and chronic disease management at reduced costs. Office visits and physicals are $50â€¨and a well-women exam and PAP is $115. Low-cost lab work is also conducted on site.
Nurse-Family Partnership is an evidence-based, nurse home-visiting program that improves the health and well-being of low-income, first-time mothers and their children.
Physicians Reach Out coordinates a network of over 1,600 physicians and dentists to provide free or low-cost healthcare for individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid and do not have access to private health insurance.
The organization strives to empower individuals to establish and maintain good health, says Smith.
“We feel it is important for our patients to be able to navigate the healthcare system that exists in our community, even though it may not be perfect.Â By giving clients a voice around their healthcare issues, we empower them to tell their stories and share with others the impact of being uninsured.”
Susan Verville, a Family Nurse Practitioner at Care Ring, says the staff helps empower individuals by getting back to the basics; teaching disease prevention and to maintain their optimum health by teaching management of their disease.
“By enabling a person with the skills to live their healthiest life possible, we improve quality of life and reduce everyone’s overall healthcare costs,” she says.
Today, one in 10 people die from limited access to health services. Care Ring’s goal is to prevent these needless tragedies and build a stronger, healthier community by providing access to health care and empowering their clients.
“We work to respond to the changing healthcare needs of our community, with a vision that everyone should have access to affordable, timely, high-quality healthcare,” says Smith.
For more information visit www.CareRingNC.org or 704-375-0172.