Bertha Young operates a daycare center from her home in Raleigh, N.C., and caters meals on the side. For 27 years, she ran a convenience store with her husband.
As a self-employed worker, Young, 56, saw her health insurance rates increase until they became too much for her to afford. Uninsured and diagnosed with diabetes, she turned to Alliance Medical Ministry for help.
"I can get the care there that I need," she says. "They're helping me stay healthy. If I do my part, they'll help me live longer."
Collaborative Networks Work to Improve Care for Uninsured
Alliance Medical Ministry near downtown Raleigh is part of the CapitalCare Collaborative, a network in Wake Couny working to improve the health of the region's medically uninsured. Health care leaders across North Carolina and South Carolina are learning from CapitalCare and other collaborative networks as they work to change the current system of caring for the uninsured.
The CapitalCare partnership includes three local hospitals, Wake County Human Services, the Wake County Medical Society, Wake Health Services, Inc., Alliance Medical Ministry and Urban Ministries of Wake County's Open Door Clinic. It began in 2006.
"The partners decided that there's a lot we should be doing together to be more efficient, more cost-effective and to provide better care," says Polly Hathaway, CapitalCare's director. "They saw that if we're going to solve issues around the uninsured in Wake County, we're going to have to do it collectively and not individually."
CapitalCare is working on several initiatives, including web-based technology that will help safety-net providers obtain and share important patient information. The network also hopes to find ways to reduce medication costs and increase medication access across the partner organizations.
CapitalCare also worked to create a standard application so patients wouldn't have to fill out multiple forms. The standardization included finding common ways to calculate income and determine eligibility for care.
The process has helped the group spot cracks in the system. "Anytime you get the leaders of these various entities talking and understanding better who does what and what the outcomes are, you can immediately identify gaps," Hathaway says. "That's been one big positive. When everybody is at the same table and they have a common problem, they can begin to talk about common solutions that will, in the end, help them better serve the patient."
Bertha Young goes to Alliance Medical Ministry every three months to control her diabetes. She's so grateful for the clinic's good care, she provides an annual holiday meal for staff. Last year's feast included home-cooked yams, collard greens, applesauce, turkey and red velvet cake.
"That's my gift to Alliance Medical Ministry," Young says. "It's my way of saying ‘Thanks for keeping me healthy.'"
Lin B. Hollowell III
Director of Health Care