203728 Improving access to healthcare in New Orleans: An up-to-date guide of free or low-cost clinics and medication assistance

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Richard Brucker, BA , School of Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Peggy Chehardy, EdD, CHES , School of Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Post-Katrina New Orleans poses a unique problem for those without access to health care. Charity hospital, the city's safety net, was closed. Numerous free or low-cost clinics erupted around town, yet homeless individuals still expressed a need for more free clinics and medication assistance. Accurate, up-to-date information about clinics and prescription assistance was necessary to improve access to health care.

In August 2007, the resources available were out-dated, inaccurate, and lacked information regarding cost of medical care. Upon verifying information, print guides were assembled and thousands of copies were dispersed to homeless individuals. In addition to information about prescription assistance, each clinic's address, hours, phone number, and a detailed description were included in the guide. Specific cost of care and target population was clearly indicated. Clinics were only included provided they refuse to turn patients away based on ability to pay.

A website, with both online and print guides, was created to address the difficult task of redistribution following guide updates. The master list is always available online, thus ensuring accurate, up-to-date information for health workers and community members. A drug checker quickly determines if drugs are covered by the $4 prescription program at Wal-Mart and Target.

The website is utilized daily and access to health care has improved for the homeless, the poor, and the uninsured in New Orleans. This is because community providers have access to accurate information. By using the website and its features as a model, other cities can also improve access to health care.

Learning Objectives:
1. List five requirements that improve the utility of a health care guide for the homeless. 2. Identify two major target populations for health care guides, given the limited access to internet for homeless individuals. 3. Describe how physicians can quickly and easily improve the likelihood that homeless patients will fill their prescriptions.

Keywords: Access to Health Care, Homeless Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a medical student who created the resource
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.