One telephone call can cre­ate a last­ing im­pact

The Dundalk Eagle - - EDITORIAL - By VIN­CENT ANCONA

With more than 102,000 cases, the COVID-19 pan­demic has changed our daily lives in Mary­land. While stay­ing at home and so­cial dis­tanc­ing con­trib­uted pos­i­tively to com­mu­nity ef­forts to flat­ten the curve, it has cre­ated a chal­lenge for many in­di­vid­u­als who live alone, strug­gle to find meals, or sim­ply get their med­i­ca­tions.

These challenges can be more prom­i­nent with in­di­vid­u­als who are at high-risk for de­vel­op­ing com­pli­ca­tions if they con­tract the virus, such as the el­derly pop­u­la­tion and those suf­fer­ing from chronic con­di­tions like di­a­betes.

At Ameri­group, we un­der­stand the need for ad­di­tional care to help those strug­gling to ad­just to life’s un­prece­dented times. So our teams quickly mo­bi­lized, and lis­tened to the needs of our mem­bers. In just two weeks, we de­vel­oped the Mem­ber Check Out­reach Pro­gram, an ini­tia­tive that ex­pands on our com­mit­ment to reach­ing and help­ing our mem­bers – es­pe­cially dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time – and is rooted in our com­pas­sion for those we serve.

The premise is sim­ple, but the im­pact is pro­found. As­so­ci­ates en­gaged in this pro­gram call con­sumers in Ameri­group’s Med­i­caid health plans to check-in and sim­ply see how they are do­ing. While hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion, as­so­ci­ates also help ad­dress lone­li­ness and food in­se­cu­rity and en­sure in­di­vid­u­als have ac­cess to health ser­vices like telemedici­ne and can get their pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions re­filled. We have pri­or­i­tized the call list so high-risk in­di­vid­u­als—those who live in re­gions most af­fected by COVID-19 as well as those who are im­muno­sup­pressed, per­sons with chronic con­di­tions, and mem­bers at risk for lone­li­ness—are the first to be called.

Ameri­group as­so­ci­ates have made calls to more than 12,500 of our mem­bers, con­nect­ing so many to needed ser vices.

Many of the mem­bers we’ve con­nected with live alone and have cho­sen to stay at home due to COVID-19. This has made it more dif­fi­cult for them to stock their fridge, so we worked to set them up with home-de­liv­ered meals cov­ered by their health in­sur­ance plan or avail­able through com­mu­nity-based or­ga­ni­za­tions to en­sure they have the food they need.

As­so­ci­ates mak­ing these calls have also ben­e­fited. One as­so­ciate shared, “It has been very im­pact­ful and up­lift­ing for me hear­ing peo­ple’s pos­i­tive re­ac­tions to what Ameri­group is do­ing, and be­ing able to help peo­ple dur­ing a time that is un­cer­tain and chal­leng­ing for ev­ery­one. I am grate­ful to be part of an or­ga­ni­za­tion that can quickly cre­ate and im­ple­ment a pro­gram like this to im­prove our con­sumers’ lives.”

This COVID-19 sit­u­a­tion will most likely con­tinue to be with us for a while. Be­cause of this, mem­bers may face an in­creas­ing num­ber of challenges as they con­tinue to prac­tice so­cial dis­tanc­ing and stay at home for the sake of their health and safety. As this hap­pens, we will con­tinue to be here for them and our com­mu­nity through the Mem­ber Check-In Out­reach Pro­gram as well as our other pro­grams de­signed to help con­sumers lead health­ier lives.

Vin­cent Ancona is the Med­i­caid Plan Pres­i­dent for Ameri­group Mary­land. In his role, Vin­cent is fo­cused on serv­ing the Mary­land com­mu­nity with a Med­i­caid man­aged care plan cre­ates a sim­pler, more af­ford­able and more ef­fec­tive health care ex­pe­ri­ence for those we serve

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