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Get Connected to Better Health

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 Unemployment, shrinking retirement accounts,
rising healthcare prices and overall panic
about the future of the economy have
propelled people all over the nation to scale
back their medical care, going without
prescriptions or skipping doctor visits.
According to a survey by the Rockefeller Foundation and Time Magazine, in the past year, 25 percent of those asked stated that they did not go to a doctor because of the cost.  Another 23 percent stated that they went without health insurance of any kind.

For many people in St. Mary’s County, primary care is a luxury and is often unavailable or inconveniently located. In fact, an estimated 12.4 percent of individuals in St. Mary’s County are uninsured, according to 2007 U.S. Census data. 

That’s where Get Connected to Health, a new, low-cost primary care service for the uninsured of St. Mary’s County, comes in. The program’s first stop is in Lexington Park, which has the single largest concentration of population in St. Mary’s County, with a disproportionate number living in poverty or near poverty. The area

 
 From left: Dr. Patrick Jarboe, Renee
 Shively, RN,  and Phil Caroselli, Mobile
 Outreach Center driver.
has a lower per capita income and a high unemployment rate, a combination that can lead to poor health and decreased life spans. As the area continues to grow, so does the number of low-income and uninsured residents. 

To compound this problem, Lexington Park severely lacks primary care doctors. This problem is expected to worsen as the population continues to grow.  With the already limited number of primary care providers in the county, physicians aren’t accepting new patients and uninsured residents are forced to seek crisis care in St. Mary’s Hospital’s Emergency Department.

 
Enter, Get Connected to Health. The program, sponsored by St. Mary’s Hospital’s Health Connections, is available every Monday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Lexington Park Library.  The service, offered on the Health Connections Mobile Outreach Center, links people in St. Mary’s County to a community primary care provider and various additional health and human services. 

The new program was established this fall as a partnership between St. Mary’s Hospital and the community in attempt to improve access to care for the low-income and uninsured.  Community partners in St. Mary’s County include the Health Department, Public School System, the Public Library System, the St. Mary’s County Development Corporation, Housing Authority, Department of Social Services, Health Share of St. Mary’s, On Our Own of St. Mary’s, Department of Human Services, Local Management Board and Tri-County Youth Services.

Get Connected boasts a staff that consists of a registered nurse, a volunteer physician and other hospital staff

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