Mobile Outreach Brings Help with Healthcare, Social Services to the People

PORTLAND, Ore. — Caleb Green wears many hats. Sometimes the people who come to him, out in the community, need health support. Sometimes they need customer service. Sometimes they need help scheduling social services. Many need a thoughtful listener when times are tough.

 In short, they need a CareOregon goMobile representative, such as Caleb.

 CareOregon has administered the OHP for 24 years. GoMobile is CareOregon’s way of taking services out of the office and into the community where Medicaid-eligible residents gather.

 CareOregon’s pop-up style booth includes partners such as Central City Concern, Multnomah County Health Department, Planned Parenthood, Native American Youth Association and Coalition of Community Health Clinics. GoMobile is open to anyone who wants to drop in, with a variety of social supports and practical one-on-one guidance with the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) and more.

 GoMobile helps people with:

 Checking eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid, answering questions and helping eligible individuals to enroll, assisting current members with updating their accounts.

  • Making appointments with primary care providers and coordinating medical, dental and mental health care and appointments.

  • Offering individualized information and referrals to other community services on the spot.

  • Arranging medical transportation and night stays at shelters, if needed.

  • Assisting with SNAP (food stamps) enrollment at select goMobile locations.

 Locations range from homeless shelters to low-income housing, from churches to college campuses.

 “We’ve recently started going to colleges, because many students are without health care,” says Caleb.

 

“We’re also trying to do more events in rural areas, like Estacada and the outlying parts of Washington and Clackamas counties. We’ve gone to Columbia, Clatsop, Tillamook and Jackson counties. We’re trying to go to more culturally specific events, as well.”

 The people are as diverse as the locations.

 “Going to all these places, you see that our members come from all walks of life and have different experiences. Some have small businesses they are starting. I’ve met some people in the film industry who’ll have a part-time job occasionally. There are people in school. There are people looking for housing, going through homelessness. It’s very diverse.”

 And their needs are diverse as well.

 On a recent weekend, the goMobile team set up alongside the Casey Eye Institute Outreach Van at William Temple House in NW Portland.

 “There was one instance where a woman got an emergency referral to see an ophthalmologist,” Caleb says. Like many who visit the goMobile team, she thought she had the Oregon Health Plan, but wasn’t sure.

 “I was able to look up her insurance and refer her to a specialist. It was good that I was there, or she would have been left on her own.

 “At most of our events, we have an enrollment specialist with us, and they can sign people up for the Oregon Health Plan on the spot.”

 Since the goMobile program was launched three years ago, the demand for its services has dramatically increased. While they meet most people only once, some come back for more support.

 “There have been instances, at the shelters especially, where I’m able to help a person work through some issues.”

 Like “Clyde,” who’d suffered a work-related injury for which he was receiving no assistance.

 “He didn’t have a home here, so I was able to get him some vouchers through City Team and get him a stable place to stay,” says Caleb. “We were at that same shelter every Thursday, and every Thursday I’d work through something else with him. I found him a primary care doctor. Then he had a note from his doctor, and I helped him find a specialist. He got his teeth worked on. The last time I saw him, he was doing really well. And he was always really appreciative.”

 Fully integrating oral health into primary medical care practices is one of CareOregon’s top priorities.

“A lot of people don’t know that if they have the Oregon Health Plan, they also have dental,” Caleb says. “We’ll make them a dental appointment right on the spot, which is really great because when they came in, they didn’t even know they had coverage.”

Recently, goMobile welcomed new partners: the Multnomah County SNAP outreach program and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, which send outreach specialists to several goMobile events.

“What’s great about the program is that it’s flexible,” Caleb says. “In gearing up toward summer, there are a lot of health fairs and community events where we like to be.”

The goMobile team averages six events a week. In 2017, it assisted 2,380 people. Its schedule is published each month on the CareOregon website and Facebook page.

  • For information about CareOregon, contact Jeanie Lunsford, 503-416-3626, [email protected].
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