FDRHPO picks Erika Flint as its new executive director

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY Business The Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization has picked Erika F. Flint to become its new executive director, the group said on Monday.

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY Business
The Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization has picked Erika F. Flint to become its new executive director, the group said on Monday.

[Read more…]

Health: From the voices of vulnerable

Ian Grant WEB

Ian Grant

Are you curious about your blood pressure? There are devices for that and they’re popping up everywhere, even in local grocery stores. Do you need to assess your risk for developing type 2 diabetes? There is a simple test for that here: take-control.org. Want to investigate the burden of chronic disease in our region? There is a website for that — ncnyhealthcompass.org.

In our community, we have unprecedented access to a growing variety of personal health data and community health indicators. But suppose you wanted to investigate patients’ attitudes, behaviors, and experiences with health care? For that you must go directly to the patient, which is exactly what we did.

We called community residents on their cell-phones and landlines, and asked them questions about their personal health, lifestyles and socio-economic status. In the end, we talked to 1,800 men and women of the tri-county region from all age groups, income categories and educational backgrounds. From our group of 1,800 respondents, we found more than 230 individuals who live in very fragile economic conditions. This group spoke on behalf of those of us who live in poverty and are most in need of our support.

Census estimates inform us that the most recent 10-year poverty estimates for each of our three counties — 15 percent of the population in Jefferson; 13 percent in Lewis; 18 percent in St. Lawrence — are the highest they’ve been since the early ‘60s and ‘70s. This vulnerable and growing population typically suffers a disproportionate burden of poor health outcomes, low access to health care and insufficient social supports. To alleviate these burdens and develop an equitable health care system, we need a greater understanding of the scope of social and economic factors impacting their health.

Our 2016 Community Health Survey allowed us to explore these social and economic health determinants while confirming the county-level estimates of individuals impacted by poverty. The survey revealed that individuals with limited resources are 67 percent more likely to visit an emergency department and have a 27 percent higher rate of hospitalization than the general population.

Though there are numerous potential explanations for these higher emergency department visits and hospitalizations, the survey data established that these individuals are sicker than the general population. In fact, more than half of Medicaid enrollees reported a diagnosis of at least one of the following chronic conditions: diabetes, prediabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or obesity — while just 38 percent of non-Medicaid enrollees report having one of these illnesses.

In addition to battling the challenges of finding the appropriate level of health care, 43 percent of Medicaid enrollees expressed that they do not always understand the instructions they receive during a clinical appointment. Significantly fewer non-Medicaid enrollees — 31 percent — expressed similar challenges. Health literacy, or the ability to obtain, process, and understand health information to make informed health decisions, affects all economic classes but disproportionately affects impoverished members of our community. Low health literacy is associated with increased risk of mortality, poor overall health and lower rates of preventive screening and immunizations.

Arguably the most startling statistic from the survey indicates that only 29 percent of Medicaid enrollees have five or more close friendships, while 41 percent of non-enrollees enjoy the benefit of large social networks. In other words, more than 70 percent of the individuals living in poverty within our community do so while experiencing low levels of social engagement and isolation. Notably, high levels of positive social engagement are associated with improved physical health and mental well-being.

Documenting the voices of the vulnerable is only half of the battle. Our extensive network of partners — including community coalitions, local health departments, community health centers, hospitals and social services agencies — will leverage these findings to tackle these challenges. These stories will continue to motivate action by all sectors of our community. The data underscore our duty to support our vulnerable brothers and sisters.

To learn more about poverty and health in our community and how you can take control of your own health visit the North Country Health Compass at www.ncnyhealthcompass.org.


-Ian Grant is the population health program manager for Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, Watertown. Contact him at igrant@fdrhpo.org or 755-2020. Visit fdrhpo.org to learn more. A column from Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization staff appears every other month in NNY Business.

Director Denise K. Young leaves FDRHPO for Watertown Family YMCA

JUSTIN SORENSEN n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES Denise Young, Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, speaks during a press conference Wednesday on the Samritan Medical Center helipad, at the top level of the SMC parkins garage.

JUSTIN SORENSEN n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
Denise Young, Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, speaks during a press conference Wednesday on the Samaritan Medical Center helipad, at the top level of the SMC parkins garage.

[Read more…]

August 2016 Feature Story: North Country Family Health Center

Back from the brink

Joey Marie Horton is the executive director of North Country Family Health Center, Watertown. The center has clawed its way back from near closure three years ago.  Photo by Justin Sorensen, NNY Business.

Joey Marie Horton is the executive director of North Country Family Health Center, Watertown. The center has clawed its way back from near closure three years ago. Photo by Justin Sorensen, NNY Business.

North Country Family Health Center turns corner

By Gabrielle Hovendon, NNY Business

How healthy is the North Country Family Health Center? Take a look at its numbers. [Read more…]

August 2016 Cover Story: Telemedicine

Technology connects patients with care

The telemedicine machine utilizes a camera, top, that can be controlled remotely by a distance doctor, to analyze a patient and run tests for stroke diagnostics. The display of the doctor would be on the main computer screen, and the patient and location nurse can be seen in an inset screen, seen at bottom right. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

The telemedicine machine utilizes a camera, top, that can be controlled remotely by a distance doctor, to analyze a patient and run tests for stroke diagnostics. The display of the doctor would be on the main computer screen, and the patient and location nurse can be seen in an inset screen, seen at bottom right. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

Telemedicine another tool working to improve
access to specialists for rural residents

By Norah Machia, NNY Business

A patient recently came into Samaritan Medical Center’s Emergency Department presenting with symptoms of a possible stroke. Although a CT scan was done to rule out other causes, the physician treating the patient was still not completely convinced that stroke was the correct diagnosis. [Read more…]

August 2016 Feature Story: FDRHPO

A ‘mission-focused’ agency

Denise Young is the executive director for Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization. The agency, which was formed in 2005 and today employs a staff of 36 full- and part-time people, works to improve the health of the region’s residents through a variety of initiatives. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

Denise Young is the executive director for Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization. The agency, which was formed in 2005 and today employs a staff of 36 full- and part-time people, works to improve the health of the region’s residents through a variety of initiatives. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

FDRHPO works to fill gaps in region’s health care

By Norah Machia, NNY Business

The growth of telemedicine is just one of several goals that the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization continues to accomplish on its mission to improve the health of north country residents. [Read more…]

North Country Initiative, FDRHPO highlight DSRIP inaugural year success

The North Country Initiative, in partnership with the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, is reporting a solid first year under the state’s five-year Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program. [Read more…]

June 2016: Economically Speaking

Understanding changes in health care

Columnist, Brian Marcolini

Brian Marcolini

Health care in the North Country has undergone significant transformation. Fortunately, these changes have created many positive enhancements to our health care system. Policy changes by the state and federal governments have contributed to changes in how health care is delivered. Historically, policy changes have been used to improve health care systems. Building upon that fundamental idea, many new, innovative approaches and plans have emerged that focus on improving patient care and reducing costs. [Read more…]

April 2016: Guest Essay

Connecting education with business, industry

Tracy Gyoerkoe

Tracy Gyoerkoe

Career and technical educators have been connecting education with business and industry almost since their inception. In today’s world, it’s even more important for these connections to remain strong, and more and more, all educators are working to connect learning to the real world of work. [Read more…]

April 2016: Economically Speaking

Local health care reform sees progress

Erika Flint

Erika Flint

While the health care community has known of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program for some time, community members of the Tug Hill region are now also beginning to recognize this acronym and the work being accomplished. DSRIP has been labeled both unprecedented change and unprecedented opportunity, but the point has finally arrived when planning has become doing, and as changes happen, opportunities are being realized. So it is my pleasure to highlight just some of the critical work of more than 100 partners within the North Country Initiative Performing Providers System. [Read more…]