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Physicians like you contribute to the success of programs that help Indiana’s working poor
e-Reports, Feb. 22, 2011
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Thousands of uninsured Hoosiers are receiving medical care, including surgeries and specialty care, thanks to doctors like you. Community-based clinics and programs are not only helping patients, but they are also keeping health care costs down by reducing the number of patients in emergency departments.

Project Health in Marion County and Project Access in Howard County are two successful, non-clinic programs that are recognized nationwide. Both projects are unique in that they coordinate donated medical care services provided by primary and specialty care physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, labs and others.

“We have helped several cities start similar programs,” said Carrie Jackson Logsdon, director of Project Health. “We have shared forms, software, and provided them information based on our experience.”

More than 1,000 Indianapolis-area physicians volunteer their services to Project Health, while 153 Kokomo doctors participate in Project Access.

However, unlike many of their counterparts in other states, both programs do not receive federal money; they are dependent on local financial support. Since 2004, Project Health has received over $16.5 million in donated services and Project Access has received $10.3 million.

“Kokomo is a very collaborative community,” said Project Access Executive Director Suzan Overholser. “There is a trust and cohesiveness between the hospitals, physicians and labs.”

Uncertain Future
Both programs face three challenges in the years ahead:

  • An increase in patients
  • Funding
  • Uncertainty of the new health care law and its role in covering the working poor

“Who knows what will happen?” surmised Logsdon. “About 40 percent of the people we help are undocumented, so there will still be people not covered by health care reform. We will keep plugging away until someone says we are not needed anymore.”

Overholser agreed the need to help the working poor, those who fall through governmental cracks, will continue. In 2010 alone, her participants increased 32 percent.

“A program will still be needed to direct people where to go,” noted Overholser. “The failure rate of people to sign up for these programs is high because they do not understand government forms.”

While Project Access and Project Health help only residents in their respective counties, people in surrounding areas often come to them for help. Logsdon and Overholser still try to assist by directing them to resources available in their communities.

“We don’t want to send anyone away,” explained Logsdon. “A lot of people don’t know where to go. They don’t even know to call 211, a statewide number, for resources for all kinds of services.”

If you want to learn how one of these programs can work in your community, Overholser and Logsdon welcome your phone call.

Contact Project Health at (317) 262-5625 or online here.

For Project Access, call (765) 854-0544 or go to their website.

 FAST FACTS
 Project Health
  • Established 2003
  • Served 1,780 patients within 201-300 percent of federal poverty level
  • Reduced unwarranted emergency department use from 77 percent to less than 1 percent during the last five years
  • Charges patients a $100 annual membership fee

Project Access

  • Established 2004
  • Served more than 2,250 patients with an income of less than 20 percent of the federal poverty level
  • Patients pay a $25 co-pay for lab work, imaging and other ancillary services
  • Receives an average of $55,000 worth of medications for clients through pharmaceutical assistance programs
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