December 9, 2010

Center for Health Services joins effort to curb poverty

Center for Health Services joins effort to curb poverty

Vanderbilt's Center for Health Services has been tapped to lead the health care action committee of the Nashville Poverty Reduction Initiative.
With more than 16 percent of Nashville's population living below the poverty line, the initiative aims to reduce poverty by 50 percent in 10 years.

The health care committee is one of seven action committees that will examine child care, economic opportunity, food, health care, housing, neighborhood development and workforce development.

The Center for Health Services has nearly 40 years experience working with low-income communities.

“Now we, along with a number of other agencies, are looking carefully at what the unmet health care needs are in Metro, and we are particularly concerned about the period of time between now and 2014 when health care reform, we hope, will kick in,” said CHS director Barbara Clinton.

“Between now and then, providers are struggling to meet the needs of people who don't have insurance and just don't have any way to get health care.”

The health care action committee includes the Metro Public Health Department, Nashville General Hospital, United Neighborhood Health Services, Health Assist Tennessee, Dispensary of Hope and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.

The group meets monthly and expects to complete its work within a year.

Its five goals are: improving health care availability, especially by targeting key prevention areas such as smoking and obesity; increasing access to specialty care; inventorying existing services for the uninsured; increasing the availability and affordability of medications; and advocating for a plan for the uninsured.

Clinton says the work around specialty care will be the most challenging.

“While many of the uninsured can find free screenings and low-cost primary care at our community clinics, if they need specialty care of almost any kind, we're not set up to provide it. There has been remarkable generosity from many specialty health care providers in the past, but they cannot carry on this way indefinitely and we still don't have a comprehensive system in place to meet the needs of Metro's uninsured,” she said.