Updated: May 13
Olympic Community of Health hosted virtual collaboration calls for partners in each county in the Olympic region. Twenty-six different participants from physical and behavioral health clinics, social service organizations, local public health, and county government took part in the calls. They offered a broad look at the current areas of need and opportunity for the Olympic region related to COVID-19.
Poll: Greatest needs seen in our region are:
Social supports for those feeling isolated (selected by all 3 counties)
Internet access (Jefferson & Clallam)
Knowledge of statewide financial support programs related to unemployment, insurance, and necessary payments (mortgage, bills, etc), especially for individuals navigating these programs for the first time (Kitsap & Clallam)
Synopsis: Participants across the region identified social support for those feeling isolated as a top need (OCH created a toolkit of resources addressing this issue). Hardship and the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order amplify isolation for people who need transportation, food, and information. Providers can reach some families using telehealth, however, not everyone has access to the technology or equipment required.
Poll: Areas identified as opportunities for increased collaboration
Cross-sector communication (#1 priority in all 3 counties)
Knowledge of which local resources are available (all 3 counties)
Coordinated policies and procedures (Jefferson & Clallam)
Synopsis: Partners recognize a need for accurate information that is clear and reliable. Information is changing as we learn more about COVID-19 and as practice waivers are put into place. There is conflicting and misleading information available on the internet. The Olympic region has the opportunity to solidify and amplify common messages to the community. For example, shared messaging about seeking preventive care, availability of behavioral health, and treatment services.
Policies and systems being deployed during COVID-19 that participants want to see sustained?
All regions identified telehealth services as something valuable gained during COVID-19. Especially the changes permitting billing & fair reimbursement rates for telehealth and telephonic services which previously were denied by Medicare and limited by Medicaid. Now that practices have retooled for telehealth, providers hope that it will remain available and financially viable.
Collaboration and focus on social determinants of health and sustaining the level of support and wrap-around care that is being offered through the community during COVID-19. Ensuring access to housing and food. Recognition that “health is bigger than the health care system”.
Needs or concerns from COVID-19 that have not yet been addressed and want to see in future?
Continued support for telehealth. It is a tool that addresses barriers including transportation and behavioral health providers report drastically reduced no-show rates.
Medicaid reimbursement needs to continue for telehealth and telephonic visits, and Medicare and commercial insurers need to follow suit. Providers requested that the federal government hears how important this issue is.
Ensuring access to internet in rural parts of the region, as well as accurate information to understand who is not able to access virtual services. Enhancing and rebuilding public health systems and better preparation for future emergencies.
Participants expressed interest in future collaboration calls by county and by partner type (physical health, behavioral health, community-based & social service organizations). Stay tuned as OCH coordinates future calls and convenings.