September 30, 2008

Charting a Course for Primary Care

Watch Stone Soup's interview of Andrea.

Most of you who have been keeping up with the unveiling of our Good Hope Awards have heard of the excellent work Stone Soup Films did for us earlier this year. Interviewing four regular Bread for the City patients, Stone Soup highlighted two aspects of our healthcare system not often talked about. The first is that when non-profits like us talk about the need for primary health care, there aren’t nearly enough people who know what that means. The second is that despite DC’s health insurance program for people below the poverty line, the capacity of the city to provide primary care remains very, very low.

The video above highlights both of these points fairly succinctly. Andrea came to Bread for the City initially to receive temporary care in the same way that most low-income residents use emergency rooms. It was only over repeated visits and check-ups that many of the factors leading to Andrea’s medical conditions came to light and could be addressed. Emergency rooms can treat symptoms, but they can rarely dive into many of the more complex issues that weave a medical history. That’s why medical homes (places that can offer a continuum of care, provide holistic services, and empower patients to improve their health) are a much better method for addressing health in low-income communities, and why access to primary care in such facilities is much more labor-intensive and hard to find. As Andrea’s video points out, Bread for the City is only able to see two new patients every day from among about 40 or more callers. The rest of our 2,700 patient visits every year are guests for whom we are already their medical home. Though that number of visits is impressive, it’s obviously far below what the actual need for primary care in the city is (else we wouldn’t be getting so many calls every morning). As we and our partners continue to try and get the word out about the need for access to primary care, we’ll be talking more about these interviews and what they mean.

No comments: