I can’t believe it’s already May 20! It seems impossible that three weeks at my internship have already gone by! The short time I have spent at Hope Medical Clinic has been extremely eye-opening. It’s obvious that Hope is such an asset to the surrounding community, especially for individuals who lack insurance coverage and money to have a healthy lifestyle. Although Hope is able to help a lot of people who come looking for assistance, there are many challenges that we encounter that impact the lives of our clients.
As I mentioned in my previous post (https://blog.opportunityhub.lsa.umich.edu/2017/05/09/my-first-week-1/), I am working as a public health intern at Hope. I am working alongside the social workers in order to provide healthcare navigation assistance and serve as an advocate to clients. One of the challenges that I’ve faced so far is finding solutions to problems regarding attaining health insurance. Many of the individuals who come to Hope have recently immigrated to the United States. In order to be approved for full Medicaid coverage, you must have had a Green Card for at least 5 years. Individuals who have had a Green Card for less than 5 years may only be approved for “Emergency Services Only” or ESO. This means they are able to have coverage for emergency hospital visits for things such as a heart attack, broken bone, etc, but are not covered for primary care visits, prescriptions, dental care, and other non-emergency services. While it’s great that there is some coverage available for these clients, it’s difficult to tell someone that they are unable to receive full coverage because of their immigration status. Being unable to access a primary care provider is critical because it means that these clients are unable to receive preventative care. If they had access to a primary care provider, they may be able to be referred to specialists who are able to help them prevent the development of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. With full insurance coverage, these clients would be less likely to have a medical emergency that would require emergency medical care, which is more expensive and focused on tertiary treatment of their illness.
One of the great things about Hope is that these individuals who only qualify for ESO are able to utilize the services at Hope’s free clinic. They are able to meet with doctors and set up plans to prevent the onset or further development of many chronic illnesses. Hope’s food pantry and farm stand provides healthy foods for families who cannot afford these healthy options, further improving their health and lifestyle. The area surrounding Hope is considered a food desert, which means that the area is lacking many affordable and healthy food options, like grocery stores. Many of the clients who come to Hope cannot afford transportation to the few grocery stores that do exist, so they choose the unhealthy fast-food alternative.
Food for thought: is it really a choice if you have no other option?
Hope also has a nutritionist on staff, so these clients can plan a healthy diet with a professional.
I have loved my experience so far! If you support Hope’s mission in serving the community, consider donating school supplies, dental supplies, and new & unopened toys on June 10th! Hope is partnering with Ford for their “Fill a Ford” event. You can drop off donations at Kroger (210 Whittaker road Ypsilanti 48197). Thank you for following my journey and I will continue to update you on the events happening at Hope!