Jason Parrott’s guests on Emphasis this week are Christine Van Berkum, Rachael Patterson-Rahn, and Melissa Calvillo. They discuss some of the programs currently offered by the Lee County Health Department.
Christine Van Berkum is the Grant Supervisor and Coordinator for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program.
She says it is an expansion of the HOPES Program, which provides family support through in-home visits.
“We like to target families that are either pre-natal or have a newborn in the home, which is considered ages 0-3 months,” says Van Berkum. “We stay with that family, if it allows us, until the child turns 5.”
She says the idea is to prepare the children for the school years.
“To make sure they are reaching all of their developmental milestones and accessing programs if there are any delays,” says Van Berkum, “to make sure they are getting the resources they need to prepare their children for the school years.”
The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program serves Lee and Des Moines Counties.
Van Berkum says getting into the home is crucial to success.
“Being in the home with the families allows us to see them in their natural environment,” says Van Berkum, “and access the tools they will have on a daily basis.”
Rachael Patterson-Rahn is the I-Smile Oral Health Coordinator for the Lee County Health Department.
The I-Smile Dental Home Initiative was created by the state departments of public health and human services, the University of Iowa and the state dental association several years ago.
Patterson-Rahn says the program strives to improve dental support systems for families and recruiting and retaining dentists in underserved areas, among other things.
She says in southeast Iowa, I-Smile puts an extra emphasis on services for Medicaid-eligible kids, but while those numbers grow, the number available dentists do not.
“We basically have one dentist in each population center (Keokuk & Fort Madison) who are accepting new Medicaid patients at this moment,” says Patterson-Rahn. “There are some who have some existing Medicaid clientele but as far as new patients, we are pretty much working with two of them.“
She says that makes for difficulty in scheduling because of the high number of Medicaid-eligible kids.
Patterson-Rahn says her program is reaching out to local dentists to try to get more to accept more patients.
“Popular reasons why dentists choose not to participate include the reimbursement rates,” says Patterson-Rahn, “as they get much less money compared to a self-paying/private insurance client. The no-show rate is also higher with that population.”
Melissa Calvillo is the Maternal/Child Health Coordinator for the Lee County Health Department.
She works with pregnant women and children ages 0-22.
“The goal is to keep families healthy and well and to prevent complications and illness as much as possible.”
Calvillo says she take a personal approach when working with her maternal clients.
“I have an ongoing caseload of about a dozen or so pregnant women,” says Calvillo, “I meet with them and it is very individualized based on their needs to provide prenatal education and some health screening.”
She says the child health services are provided through WIC in five counties including Lee and Des Moines.
Calvillo says participating in this program is important.
“Sometimes the health system is very difficult to navigate,” says Calvillo, “and to truly understand what all the benefits are, whether it is from a Medicaid provider or a Hawk-I provider. It’s hard for families to understand what all the benefits are, that they are not going to be necessarily charged and to get access to doctors or dentists.”
Information about these programs and many more for the Lee County Health Department can be found on the department’s website or by calling 800-458-6672.