Members and advocates urge, complain and listen to “Conversations with Health Share”

At the first event of the year, advocates urged caregivers to learn how to deal with patients suffering from domestic abuse.

Every two months, Health Share, the state’s largest coordinated care organization, sits down for supper with its members and advocates to hear how things are going.

“The first couple of years in CCO land, we felt like we were drinking from a fire hose but 2015 is really a pivot-point year. We’re standing up. We’ve got our bearings,” said Health Share CEO Janet Meyer. “We focused first on high utilizers…now we need to get upstream before the traumatic events that propel people into a life that’s not optimal.”

Those were welcome words to Kris Billhardt, director of the Volunteers of America of Oregon’s Home Free program which provides domestic violence intervention services.

“We’d like to partner with Health Share and Family Care,” Billhardt said, but so far her group has been unable to join community advisory councils. “Nobody is trying to keep us out but there’s just so much change. Where do we fit?”

Women suffering from domestic violence have “way more contact with healthcare providers” than nearly any other social service provider including police, said Billhardt, adding that caregivers might see red flags such as reproductive coercion, heightened cortisone levels or stress-related illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome long before broken bones or black eyes.

Caregivers may not know what to do next with a patient suffering from domestic abuse, especially mandatory reporters who worry their only option is to call police. Screening, Billhardt said, should really be more about providing information to the patient – and that means better and more targeted referrals to the caregiver.

While some applauded Health Share for excellent customer service especially on the phone, many complained about the Oregon Health Authority’s long phone holds – up to four hours at times -- for Oregon Health Plan members.

Phil Broyles, executive director of Teras Intervention and Counseling Inc., said doctors are trained to work within insurance limitations so “you get treated differently as an OHP patient.” “People with trauma just give up. Having somebody navigating the system would be really helpful.”

Many of the attendees at the first Health Share conversation of the year came just to listen.

“Oregon is very progressive; there’s a lot going on here,” said Steve Kang, a business development executive from Kansas-based Netsmart, who came to learn more about how Oregon’s CCOs are handling the vast amounts of data with the widespread use of electronic health records and care management.

Shafia Monroe, president and CEO of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing said she came to hear about community health workers who serve on the healthcare frontline with a close understanding of the communities they serve.

“I just wanted to see what is on people’s minds,” said Sam Chase, executive director of the Coalition of Community Health Clinics and a Metro councilor representing District 5.

"Conversations with Health Share” rotate locations every other month in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties with free dinner, free child care, and language interpretation in 20 different languages.

Check for future dates and locations.

Jan can be reached at [email protected].

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