After losing my job this spring here in Hendricks County, I didn’t know what to do. I had no income, nothing to do during the day, and nowhere to go thanks to the Coronavirus. On top of it all, I no longer had health insurance, either.
We all know that this pandemic has wreaked havoc on everyone’s lives in different ways. Some of us have lost our jobs, some suffered financial difficulties like being able to pay bills and buy food or diapers. Others have faced isolation, worsening mental health, and associated fears like losing our homes. All our routines have been shaken up.
I could no longer do the things I used to take for granted. I wasn’t able to go to the doctor or the dentist, and I dreaded the financial responsibility of me or my kid getting sick and having to go to the emergency room. That bill alone could destroy me financially.
But most importantly, I wasn’t alone. Estimations show that over five million Americans have also lost their insurance this spring. This estimation is 40% more than the amount of uninsured during the 2008 recession.
Here, in Hendricks County alone, 7% of us are uninsured.
This is a significant problem because primary care is essential to detecting and managing specific conditions. In addition, having the resources that you need to survive, like food and shelter, is essential to staying healthy.
Doctor Visits Prevent Hospital Visits
Some emergency room visits can be avoided altogether. When people are admitted to the hospital for conditions that could have been managed by a primary care doctor, it is known as a preventable hospitalization.
Preventable hospitalizations are typically for acute illnesses (like dehydration) or chronic conditions. Chronic conditions are those that don’t have a definite end in sight, like diabetes, cancer, asthma, heart disease, etc.
Hospital visits can be reduced when people have accessible quality care from their doctors and when they seek this care. Quality of life can also help ease the struggles of chronic conditions.
You Can Control Your Care
Most chronic conditions can be prevented altogether by eating well, exercising, not smoking, avoiding excessive drinking, and getting health screenings regularly.
We all know this, but having access to food, water, and shelter can also help improve the outcomes of these conditions. When you don’t have to worry about choosing between food and medicine, decisions become a lot easier to make.
However, chronic conditions are common. If you have one, you aren’t alone. Six out of ten Americans have one or more chronic conditions.
When it comes to managing chronic conditions, some responsibility falls on us.
Effective management of chronic conditions is possible when the treatment is patient-centered and involves the patient in their care.
If you have a chronic condition, you are in charge of your daily habits and health. About 95 to 99 percent of care for a chronic condition is done by the patient.
For example, if you have diabetes, you are in charge of monitoring your blood sugar and taking your diabetes medication daily.
But What If I Don’t Have Insurance or Struggle Financially?
All this may be well and good. However, if you don’t have health insurance or are struggling financially, you may feel that help is out of reach. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help you, regardless of your financial situation.
Situations that make getting healthcare more difficult includes food insecurity, homelessness, unemployment, and/or being uninsured. Additionally, being elderly limits your ability to care for yourself.
Get the resources you need to combat these barriers to care in Hendricks County.
If you have a chronic condition:
- Hope Healthcare Services: offers chronic disease management, primary care, and mental health services for the uninsured.
- Hendrick County support groups
If you are food insecure:
If you are struggling with homelessness:
- Family Promise: offers services for the prevention of homelessness, shelter, and stabilization. While their shelter is currently full, they offer good information and resources.
If you are unemployed:
- Job Postings in Hendricks County
- WorkOne: with a location in Plainfield, WorkOne provides the resources needed for the unemployed to find work.
- Township Assistance: the Washington Township Trustee gives temporary financial assistance to those in need who apply.
If you are uninsured:
- Hope Healthcare Services: offers telepsychiatry, in-person counseling, medical, dental, and spiritual services for the uninsured.
- Partners in Care: offers women’s health services and primary care for adults and children through Hendricks Regional Health program.
- Family and Social Services Administration: see if you qualify for benefits and apply for them.
If you are elderly:
- Hendricks County Senior Services: provides services so that older adults and Baby Boomers are able to live independently.
- Meals on Wheels: provides meals for seniors living independently who cannot cook for themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to get care for my other medical conditions during this time?
First off, don’t wait to get emergency medical attention in general if needed or for a health condition that needs immediate care. You should continue to take care of your health by taking your medications, managing your condition as discussed with your doctor, and making sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Call your doctor with concerns about your condition, if you’re sick, and alternatives to in-person visits.
What illnesses should I not go to the ER for?
Common colds, the flu, sore throats, and chronic conditions are best handled by either your primary care physician, low-cost clinics like HOPE Healthcare, and Minute Clinics. A trip to the ER should be reserved for true emergencies. Not only will this save a lot of money down the road, but you won’t be waiting forever while ER doctors deal with other, more pressing emergencies.
When should I seek emergency care?
If you have the following symptoms or experiences, you need emergency care:
- Chest pain – especially if you have a history of heart disease or other heat-related issues
- Trouble breathing
- Severe cold/flu symptoms – especially if the fever is over 103 degrees, accompanied by a severe headache or rash, and not responding to fever-reducing medications.
- Head and eye injuries
- Broken bones
- Joint dislocation
- Severe cuts and burns
- Weakness and/or numbness on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Sudden face drooping
How to Get Help for Your Chronic Condition
If you are among the uninsured, Hope Healthcare Services is here for you.
Here in Hendricks County, Hope Healthcare provides services for the uninsured. At Hope, you can expect to get high-quality, low-cost medical, dental, spiritual, and mental health services. We can help prevent trips to the hospital with our acute and chronic diagnostics and chronic disease management. Learn more about all we have to offer and give us a call to get more information or to schedule an appointment at 317-272-0708.