Health Guardians & Ciara Living p33

Health Guardians

Health Guardians of Catholic Charities is an intensive and integrated care model that strives to remove and address barriers (social, economic, and health-related) to receiving effective health care. It is an integrated system of intensive medical and behavioral care navigation. It incorporates the many health and social services provided by Catholic Charities and its partner organizations to help these patients achieve a better quality of life.

The below video offers more insight into what Health Guardians does and who they serve.



Patient Navigators work one on one with these individuals and their families to map out an intensive care plan that leads to improved self-sufficiency in accessing care. Through Health Guardians, CCANO offers an integrated system of intensive medical and behavioral care management and wraparound social services for this high-need patient population.

Health Guardians currently serves St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, and Orleans Parishes. Support and assistance include:

  • Intensive care management
  • Transportation assistance for those otherwise unable to attend Primary Care appointments
  • Facilitating with Health Care Coverage (Medicaid and Medicare)
  • Serving as a liaison between doctors and patients
  • Counseling and Medication Management Referrals
  • Food Assistance
  • Enrollment in primary care medical home
  • Prescription Assistance
  • Application Assistance
  • Hygiene Needs
  • Referrals for substance abuse treatment
  • Workforce Development Referrals
  • Transitional housing resources
  • Health education and literacy


Caring for the Individual – Impacting the Community

By targeting access to healthcare and removing healthcare barriers, the program is also effectively addressing social determinants of health such as poverty, homelessness, and unemployment.  Coupling chronic medical issues with a struggle to meet basic needs certainly becomes a vicious cycle that often leads to unemployment and homelessness.  Our model of service has shown that with the proper guidance, we can help people turn their health and their lives around, while also reducing the burden on the limited resources in our healthcare system.

Health Guardians positively impact the individual but also relieve the burden on the current healthcare system. The focus has been on the uninsured who over-use the ER. The Health Guardians model navigates a better care plan for these individuals that is also cost-effective to our hospital systems.

Overuse of the emergency room is estimated to cost $38 billion a year nationwide, according to a 2010 report by the New England Healthcare Institute. The report also found that 56 percent of ER visits are preventable. The cost savings to the community is around $16,000 per client enrolled in this program. In addition to saving money, preventing avoidable ER visits also frees up resources for those with emergency conditions.

Louisiana and Orleans Parish often fare poorly in national and state-level rankings of population health measures. According to United Health Care Foundation’s report, America’s Health Rankings 2015, Louisiana is ranked 50th of 50 states in overall health.  Similarly, the Commonwealth Fund Rankings of state health system performance ranks Louisiana 48th of 51 (including DC) between 2009 and 2015.

Recent census data ranks Louisiana as 6th in the nation for most uninsured residents, with the majority being low-income individuals or those who fall below the poverty line. Most of these individuals will seek care in an ER whether the need is an emergency or not.

 A Model that Works

In a study done in conjunction with LSU HSC, since the program launched in 2012 in partnership with University Hospital, over 72% of the clients in the study were able to decrease their visits to the emergency room and inpatient care by half. With continued cuts to inpatient health and substance abuse services in New Orleans and the recent visible homeless population, there has been a drastic need to rethink the way people are able to access care.

For more information on the program, contact Health Guardians’ Main Office at (504) 310-8751.


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