FLORENCE, SC – The McLeod Health Foundation has received $1,428,478 from The Duke Endowment to expand a community network of care for low-income, uninsured patients in Darlington, Dillon, Florence and Marion counties; to establish a regional lactation education program; to prepare for the implementation of a medical/dental integration pilot program; and to establish a community paramedicine program in Clarendon County.
AccessHealth Pee Dee
Approximately 21 percent of patients who visit the Emergency Departments in Florence, Dillon, Cheraw, and Clarendon are uninsured. These individuals usually lack a primary care physician, not to mention a means of transportation to visit one, which leads to poor management of their medical issues and overutilization of the Emergency Department. The AccessHealth program uses social workers and community health workers to assist these patients in accessing primary care, traveling to doctor’s appointments, and navigating the health care system.
Expansion of Lactation Consultation
The goal of this program is to ensure that every mother giving birth in the Pee Dee Perinatal Region has access to quality lactation consulting. This grant funds Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) training for one nurse at every delivering hospital in the Pee Dee, ensuring that each hospital has at least one CLC on staff. It also funds telemedicine equipment to allow mothers at outlying McLeod hospitals to consult with an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) at McLeod Regional Medical Center, a position that the grant also funds.
Research indicates that if 90 percent of mothers breastfed properly, $31 billion per year in healthcare costs would be saved due to reduced rates of illnesses such as respiratory infections, obesity, and diabetes in children as well as postpartum depression and breast and ovarian cancer in mothers. Despite the many health benefits of breastfeeding, South Carolina has one of the poorest rates of mothers who breastfeed properly in the United States.
Oral Health System-Level Integrated Delivery Model
Medicaid and uninsured patients in our region often lack access to dental care, and oral health issues, if untreated, can result in visits to the Emergency Department. This is especially true in patients with diabetes, as systemic inflammation, which can originate in the gums, elevates A1C levels.
This grant provides funding for the initial planning stage for the creation of a new model for addressing the oral health needs of diabetes patients. In particular, the program seeks to ensure that family medicine, pediatric, and other providers involved in caring for patients with uncontrolled diabetes become competent in 1) identifying oral health issues, 2) providing preventative oral health services (i.e., fluoride varnishing for children), and 3) collaborating with dentists.
Clarendon County Community Paramedicine Program
Despite making up only four percent of the patient population, heavy-utilizers of the McLeod Health Clarendon Emergency Department – those who have visited the Emergency Department more than six times in the past two years – account for 20 percent of total Emergency Department visits. This is largely due to poor management of chronic illnesses.
The goal of the Community Paramedicine Program is to help these heavy-utilizers better manage their illnesses.
Patients who have been to the Emergency Department four times in a single year for conditions related to a chronic illness – such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), congestive heart failure, diabetes, and hypertension – will be visited at home by a paramedic. The first visit will occur within 72 hours of discharge, and regular home visits will continue for up to one year to ensure that the patient is following their discharge plan and properly managing his/her chronic condition. In addition, patients will be connected with a primary care physician if they do not have one, and have the opportunity to contact their community paramedic before utilizing 911.
“We are fortunate to have the support of The Duke Endowment,” said Jill Bramblett, Executive Director of the McLeod Foundation. “With their help, we are striving to build healthier communities and continuing to develop the outstanding health care that McLeod has been a leader in for more than a century.”