Asst. to Editor
The Jackson County Community Health Action Team (JCCHAT) and Jackson County Memorial Hospital (JCMH) hosted representatives from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) in Altus on Wednesday, Aug. 8, for the SoonerCare Community Forum.
The forum is part of an effort to “ignite a culture of healthy lifestyles” here in Southwestern Oklahoma. These health care specialists met with a dual purpose, to provide information and to take concerns back to state health facilitators.
Some of the topics discussed at the forum included the following:
Many of the questions posed during the forum were regarding access to health care. When it comes to providing for the state’s children, there is concern to keep them from falling through the cracks. Questions ranged from how to coordinate coverage for children from different cultures, those with divorced parents, those parents without access to online processes, and those who do not speak English. The Jackson County Health Department offers a ray of hope for those who speak Spanish. A Spanish-speaking advocate is available for those applying for SoonerCare.
Some of the questions involved technical issues, those experienced in online applications, those with duplicate applications and Tax-ID numbers rather than Social Security numbers.
Medical Home Program
SoonerCare representatives explained the benefits of having a Medical Home, or a Primary Care Physician to coordinate basic medical care. This eliminates duplicate services, and raises efficiency in treatment.
Dental Care under SoonerCare
It was explained that very few dentists here in Altus take SoonerCare. There are some SoonerCare dentists in Elk City and Lawton. A representative will be speaking with local dentists to possibly increase our coverage here. SoonerCare patients must remember to cancel their appointments, if they are not able to go to the appointment. That was stated as one reason why local dentists are not participating in the SoonerCare program. By working together, we can provide dental service for area children.
Affordable Care Act
As the nation awaits news on how the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) may change health care, their Deputy Director, Nico Gomez has said, “In regards to the Supreme Court ruling on ACA, to date nothing has changed for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. The agency has not been given any guidance on how to proceed. It appears that everyone is still trying to gather information to better gauge options and requirements. We are managing the SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) program as it exists today as we wait to see how the state plans to proceed in regards to the exchange or any expansion.
Additionally, this would not change the implications for Insure Oklahoma. Currently, all existing criteria for Insure Oklahoma eligibility have stayed the same. We are proceeding as usual, awaiting guidance from state leadership and the federal government, to see if any changes are necessary. Insure Oklahoma will continue to serve almost 32,000 Oklahomans, in the same capacity, by continuing to provide state and federally funded health care in the most efficient and comprehensive manner possible.”
SoonerCare forum members were asked about the increase in the number of whooping cough cases in Oklahoma. Representatives answered that the Health Department is the lead agency in that campaign. They are linking with them in broadening the focus on preventing pertussis.
Dennie Christian announced that the Jackson County Health Department is giving free DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine) vaccinations to anyone who comes to the JCHD needing one. According to a release from the Jackson Count Health Department, “Recent reports about whooping cough (pertussis) in Oklahoma have raised concerns about how to protect children, especially babies, from the disease. Whooping cough is a serious disease that can affect people of any age, but infants are at greatest risk.”
“The best way to prevent whooping cough in children and babies younger than 12 months of age is to surround the child with persons who have been vaccinated against the disease,” said Jackson County Health Department Administrative Director, Karen Weaver. “In other words, make sure all of the people in contact with the child or baby have received a dose of Tdap or DTaP vaccine according to the recommended schedule.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states parents, brothers, sisters, and others living in the same household are the source for 75 percent to 83 percent of whooping cough cases in infants under age 1. Grandparents are the source for six to eight percent of whooping cough cases in babies. All persons who have or will have contact with babies should be vaccinated against whooping cough. “The more people are immunized with the Tdap vaccine, the lower the risk of exposure to whooping cough for babies in Jackson County,” Weaver emphasized.
The Jackson County Health Department has Tdap or DTaP vaccine available for all ages. For more information, contact the Jackson County Health Department at (580) 492-7308.
Watch the Altus Times for future articles on Insure Oklahoma, Living Choice, My Life; My Choice, Sooner Seniors Waiver Programs, Medical Fragile Waiver Program and other programs under the Oklahoma Health Care Authority umbrella. An article on the recycling Durable Medical Equipment (DME) ran in the Altus Times on Friday, Aug. 10.