FamilyCare Expects to Announce Grants by Year’s End

The coordinated care organization has set aside grant dollars to assist youth-focused organizations to engage in their health.

Before the year ends, FamilyCare intends to make grants to organizations serving young people between the ages of 19 and 25, as it “transitions from a benefits company to a health company,” said Bill Murray, chief operating officer, told its Community Advisory Council yesterday.

“We think about all the things that impact health,” Murray said, such as housing, food, safety and education. “But the thinking is 2014. The doing is 2015.”

At the start of the year, FamilyCare served just 55,000 Oregon Health Plan members, and those numbers have skyrocketed to reach 115,000, many of them known as “transition-age youth.”

“We know not many 19-25 year olds are going to primary care. Ninety-seven percent of these people have been assigned primary care. They’re not going to the ED (emergency department). Where are they going? Are they accessing care at all?” asked Brett Hamilton, the advisory council’s coordinator. “Where do people ages 19-25 want to receive care, and how do they want to receive it?”

In addition to listening sessions in each county to get such answers, FamilyCare received 33 responses to its Request for Proposals for grants of up to $50,000 each to youth-focused organizations to engage this transition-age population in their own health and health literacy.

Proposals range from mentoring to providing traditional health workers, from countywide efforts to programs targeting as few as 30. A subcommittee of the advisory council, a task force composed of front line staff who answer phones and an operations committee of top FamilyCare managers, will review the proposals and announce the awards by year’s ends. .

By February, FamilyCare hopes to create a transition-age youth subcommittee partly composed of representatives of the organizations receiving funds with a staff coordinator hired specifically to implement those programs. A neutral third party will assess and measure the programs later.

Why do so few young people get care?

“A sense of invulnerability makes them not inclined to see a doctor,” suggested Martha Spiers, an advisory council member from Clackamas County.

Poor relationships in the past between high-risk youth and caregivers might be part of the problem, suggested Outside In’s Alicia Atalia Mei. “Maybe they access care through a social worker or mental health provider? You can get conversations started in supportive relationships.”

The council also discussed the effectiveness of printed materials for this – or any -- population.

Royal Harris, with the Constructing Hope Pre-Apprenticeship Program, said parents need to teach how to access care “almost getting it to a rite of passage to adulthood.” If parents schedule their children’s appointments, the child doesn’t learn how to schedule appointments, he said.

Any communications with this population whether in print or via text message or in-person needs to follow a basic commandment: know the audience. “If you challenge my invincibility, you don’t get me,” said Harris, referring to the “young invincibles.” He also suggested finding better messengers to communicate with this population. “My son is 17. I’m hardly ever the messenger. His friend who’s 24 or 25 is better.”

Jan can be reached at [email protected].

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