At Providence St. Joseph Health, we believe everyone should have access to health care, including those who are poor and vulnerable. That’s why nearly 12 years ago Providence St. Joseph Health – Humboldt County in Northern California created Healthy Kids Humboldt as a community-wide coalition effort to insure the uninsured, especially children, regardless of income or immigration status. Over time, and as the health insurance landscape has changed, the program continues to enroll children in health insurance but has also expanded to serve all ages of vulnerable individuals by connecting them to health care and social service programs.
Two specially-trained bilingual community health workers help English and Spanish speaking families enroll in and navigate the complex health care and social service systems. They assist families in finding free or low-cost health insurance. They also assist in connecting families to healthy food and nutrition resources. Services are free and they make an effort to reach out to the most vulnerable people in Humboldt County.
In May 2016, Healthy Kids Humboldt received a referral from a local health clinic. A woman was concerned about her brother who had been hospitalized for two months in Connecticut due to kidney failure and was going to be discharged soon with ongoing dialysis needs. Her brother, who lost his job when he became ill, was an undocumented immigrant in a state that didn’t offer him insurance, and the hospital was unable to continue treating him. The woman was willing to have her brother move in and live with her, and the hospital offered to pay the patient’s expenses to fly to Humboldt County. Healthy Kids Humboldt worked with the sister to prepare for her brother’s arrival. The community health workers coordinated with the social worker at the hospital in Connecticut; reached out to the local dialysis center and local specialist to establish care and set up appointments; helped the brother apply for and get approval of restricted Medi-Cal benefits; and even helped him navigate emergency care prior to his ongoing care being established. Thanks to Healthy Kids Humboldt, this man’s health is now stable and he is well enough to return to work as a dishwasher at a local restaurant.
This is one of many vulnerable people who has been helped by Healthy Kids Humboldt, a program that Providence St. Joseph Health – Humboldt County began as a direct response to its community health needs assessment, which identified access to medical services as one of the greatest unmet needs in the region.
Through a total community benefit investment of $154,020 and another $27,395 in grant support from a partnership with First 5 Humboldt, Healthy Kids Humboldt in 2017 was able to assist local families with nearly 5,035 office visits, phone calls, outreach or home visits.
For more information on Healthy Kids Humboldt, visit the website.