This year we are celebrating 10 years serving our community! As a public recognition of our work, Alliance received the Community Outreach Healthcare Hero Award from the Triangle Business Journal. While honored, we know our work is not done and in some ways just beginning
Five, sometimes six days a week, we are seeing patients. We conduct more than 940 patient visits a month. If you add to that education programs, counseling, lab appointments, and nurse visits, that number rises to 1,400 interactions. That tells us we are not only seeing patients, but also treating the whole person. As medical needs are uncovered, we are able to make many referrals to in-house specialty clinics provided by our volunteer doctors: Cardiology, ENT, Ophthalmology, Physical Therapy, and Sports Medicine. We are their medical home and our patient’s first stop to receive care.
Our goal is to “dig deep” with our patients so that their overall health will improve. Typical Alliance patients have three individuals in their home with a household income of $19,900. They not only have to learn how to overcome their health challenges, but manage them with limited resources and added stress. That is why we have developed creative health education programs over the years.
This year we have completed the first full year of our Diabetes Group Visit Program that combines a typical doctor visit with group health education. Results from phase one will be ready later this fall, but initial reports show decreased A1c (sugar) levels and weight loss. This summer we added our first all Hispanic group to the program as well as a nutrition class that occurs in the grocery store where patients learn to shop and read labels.
The health education continues to expand outside of Alliance too! When we say we dig deep, we mean literally too! We continue to till the soil outside of Alliance in our community garden. Patients receive fresh produce directly from the hands of their doctor or nurse with a healthy recipe and information about accessing fresh foods in our community. We have launched a series of yoga classes where doctors are “prescribing” the classes to patients. In addition, we are starting nutrition and cooking classes for patients who have been through the Group Visit program. Addressing weight and nutrition issues is the first step in addressing many chronic diseases.
We are also here to listen. Over the past three years, we have launched and expanded our Pastoral Care and Counseling program. As a result, we have increased hours, volunteer support and are on track to nearly double our counseling sessions this year.
As we prepare for coming healthcare changes, our job is not complete. While we can acknowledge the good work we have accomplished, there will still be 75,000 people in our community who won’t have access to affordable healthcare options in 2014. In the coming year, our responsibility is to “dig deep,” provide care, expand our reach, and help patients transition to healthcare exchanges. I hope we can depend on your support! There are many ways to engage. Sign up for our regular emails to learn more: http://www.alliancemedicalministry.org/register/