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Health Guardians

Catholic Charities Strives to Remove Barriers to Health Care

Published on November 17, 2014

Health Guardians Program to Partner with 10 Community Health Clinics to Provide New Model of Full-Circle Care for uninsured and homeless

 [New Orleans, La.] Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans Health Guardians is setting a goal to remove obstacles to health care for the uninsured in the Greater New Orleans Area  – roughly 25% of the Greater New Orleans population. Through Health Guardians patient navigation program, Catholic Charities is partnering with 10 community health clinics in the Greater New Orleans area to provide individualized, targeted care plans for the uninsured and chronically ill, that will not only reduce burden on the healthcare system, but also work to reduce poverty and homelessness in our community.

“People not getting healthcare have complex problems. People with complex social problems often have barriers to effectively access and utilize health care,” said Elmore Rigamer, Health Guardians Program Director. “Couple chronic medical issues with struggling to meet basic needs and it certainly becomes a vicious cycle that results in 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.”

Since the program launched in 2012 in partnership with University Hospital, over 72% of the clients were able to decrease their visits to 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. Partnering with these 10 community clinics will allow Health Guardians to serve a broader base of the community and intercept people before they reach the emergency room. Through the network of services provided by Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans and community partners, Health Guardians can efficiently and effectively coordinate care that produces lasting positive results.

“We want to remove any barrier to health care in our community, whether that be housing or employment issues, or managing physical and mental illness,” said Rigamer. “Health Guardians care model will ultimately have lasting effects on the health of the individual and the overall health of the socio-economic landscape of New Orleans.”

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. Although the Affordable Care Act will increase the number of those insured in our state, coverage does not always equate to access. Lack of proper health care is an open door for other social factors to deteriorate. Health Guardians works to create pathways for the underserved in the community to access available services through intensive care management, improved communication and collaboration among providers, and also meets the basic social service needs such as housing, food and employment assistance.

 

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