DENVER (CBS4) – When patients go to the emergency room, sometimes they need more than medical care, that’s where the Accountable Health Communities (AHC) program comes in.

“The idea and goal behind AHC is to show that taking care of people in a more holistic manner, improves their health by bridging the gap between clinical services and community-based services,” said Christine Manikowski, a Community Resource Navigator with AHC.

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Working within the emergency room at Denver Health, Manikowski and her team are able to screen qualifying patients, and begin the work of getting them hooked up with services. Denver Health is just one of many partner agencies working with AHC. In the six-months the program has been at Denver Health, Community Resource Navigators have screened more than 1,000 patients, and gotten services for more than 400 of them.

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“I find with the clients I work with, usually just having someone on your team works a lot for them,” Manikowski told CBS4.

The most common issue they run into is food insecurity, but also can help with resources for transportation, housing and safety. Doctors at Denver Health appreciate the assistance.

“I do think it reduces stress I people’s lives, and stress certainly makes all disease worse,” said Dr. Genie Roosevelt, Director of the Pediatric Emergency Department and Urgent Care at Denver Health. “One of the best examples I can give is: I can prescribe the best right amount of insulin for a patient with diabetes; however, if that patient doesn’t have food in their home, they’re not going to take their medication appropriately. They’re not going to get the health outcome that we want.”

To qualify for AHC, a patient has to get Medicaid or Medicare and have had two emergency department visits in a year. Lisa has had ongoing medical issues and got hooked up with Manikowski on her last trip to the ED.

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“She provided food drop off for me, medical supplies that aren’t covered by insurance, that are very expensive, especially when you don’t work,” Lisa told CBS4.

Through the program, they’ve found that providing people with their social needs is one way to improve their health, which in turn, actually decreases the cost of healthcare.

“In the grander scheme, I think this is the world that I really believe in where people have access to the things that they need,” Manikowski said.

LINKS: Accountable Health Communities | Aging Colorado

Libby Smith

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