Umpqua Health Alliance, Douglas County’s Coordinated Care Organization, which swerves patients on the Oregon Health Plan, has a Community Advisory Council that advises it.
Kat Cooper, marketing manager for Umpqua Health and Melanie Prummer, chair of the Community Advisory Council for UHA, talked about how they work together during a recent Talking Health program on News Radio 1240 KQEN hosted by Lisa Platt.
The following is an edited version of the program from Oct. 23.
Lisa: Melanie, would you explain what the Community Advisory Council is?
Melanie: The Community Advisory Council, which is often referred to as the CAC, is an advisory council for the Coordinated Care Organization, which locally is Umpqua Health Alliance. I am currently the chair of the CAC, which is a volunteer position, and I also serve on UHA’s board of directors.
Lisa: Why did the state transition to a Coordinated Care Organization model?
Kat: It began as a movement to try to change the way health care was delivered in Oregon. Before CCOs came, about 80 percent of Oregon Health Plan costs came from treating chronic and mental health problems, which often resulted in treatment in emergency rooms and hospitalizations.
The CCO model was designed to focus on prevention and primary care, essentially helping folks get their health care in the community, before it escalates to needing to go to an emergency room.
Lisa: What are some of UHA’s goals?
Kat: Umpqua Health Alliance is focused on offering services to help our members, like quit smoking plans or to provide prenatal care. At the end of the day, Umpqua Health Alliance’s whole purpose is to help our members find a path to better health, provide better care and do it at a lower cost.
Lisa: There’s Umpqua Health and Umpqua Health Alliance, so what’s the difference?
Kat: Umpqua Health is the parent organization, the umbrella, and there are several different organizations under that umbrella but their focuses are all on health and helping Douglas County residents. Umpqua Health Alliance falls under Umpqua Health.
Lisa: Can you name some of the organizations that make up the UHA?
Kat: DCIPA and CHI Mercy Health are partners in Umpqua Health. A team of physicians throughout the county provide services, and we contract with many different health care providers including Adapt and South River Community Health Center in Winston.
Lisa: So has anything been enhanced for Oregon Health Plan members under the CCO? You mentioned prevention services, but is there anything else that kind of stands out that makes the plan stronger for the beneficiaries?
Kat: Non-emergent medical transportation is a great benefit. We can now offer rides to medical appointments for any person on OHP at no cost to the member. So if members live in Riddle and have a doctor’s appointment in Roseburg we can help with transportation for these members.
Lisa: What does the Community Advisory Council do?
Melanie: The Community Advisory Council has several functions. We can advise the UHA board on health care needs of our members and provide information about issues, whether it’s access to health care or navigating the health care system.
This year, we opened all of our meetings up to the public. They are held the second Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m., and the community is welcome. We meet in the former county health department building, on Madrone Street in Roseburg, in a conference room just to the south side of the parking lot.
You can find all the information on our website (umpquahealthalliance.com) including the upcoming agenda for our meeting. And we would really like the public to attend so they can either share stories with us or maybe concerns and things that are going well, so that we can find some resolution, or at least gather information so we can look at trends.
Project funding is also one of the things that the council does. We have a budget where we are able to select certain projects in the community that are meeting priorities identified in the Community Health Improvement Plan.
Lisa: How was the council formed?
Melanie: The council is a requirement for CCOs, and I think it’s a benefit to our members to have this council. It’s definitely a benefit now that we’re open to the public so that the public can more easily share their input with us.
Lisa: What would you say to those that would like to get involved as a member of the council?
Melanie: Coming to a council meeting would be a great way to find out what we do, and who we are. We do have an application process that comes out in the spring and so we recommend members to the councilors in May, so by June or July we have new councilors come on board to start their term with us.
Lisa: Let’s talk about the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). What is it?
Kat: The plan is based on a information we get from Community Health Assessment. The CHA takes a snapshot in time, to look at our health in Douglas County to see where the gaps are. The CHIP was created to address some of the needs identified through the Community Health Assessment.
Lisa: UHA has a five-year plan for assessments?
Kat: Yes, our last assessment was completed in 2014, and the next one is due in 2019, so we’re actually a little ahead of the game, but it’ll be nice to get it done now to use that information from here on out.
Lisa: What all is involved with the Community Health Assessment?
Melanie: We have an independent consultant who helps the council develop questions so we can ask our community about their health. This is not just about OHP members, it’s about our entire community.
We are also collaborating with UCAN and Umpqua Community Health Center and we’re learning together about the health challenges of our community. In addition to focus groups, we are also doing a survey for everyone to participate in and give us input about health in our community.
That survey will be available soon online, and we’ll have paper copies as well.
Lisa: Tell us how UHA awards the funds?
Melanie: We have a budget for the last couple of years of $250,000 each year to spend on community health initiatives.
There is an application process, and the application is really focused on our CHIP plan high priority areas. Those areas are access to health, addictions, mental health, parents and children and healthy lifestyles.
So applicants need to include activities or projects that would improve health in one of those areas. This year the application is available through Dec. 15, 2017 and projects can run through the entire year of 2018, from January through December.
Lisa: Are projects only focused on Oregon Health Plan members, or is it all-encompassing?