November 14, 2017
Every day, our team at Genesee Health Plan (GHP) works tirelessly to help eliminate barriers to health care coverage, resources, programs and services that help Flint and Genesee County residents live healthier and happier lives. One program that plays an essential role in this work is our Health Navigation Program. Keep reading to learn about the different ways our Health Navigation Program helps Genesee County residents take steps towards a healthier life.
When individuals enroll in the Genesee Health Plan, they are referred to a Health Navigator who helps them complete a health assessment. This assessment looks at an individual’s entire health – including physical and mental health, nutrition, physical activity and health history.
We chatted with Teresa Dehmel and Carolyn Joseph, who are both GHP Health Navigators and registered nurses and have been with the Genesee Health Plan since 2003. Both Dehmel and Joseph have been instrumental in growing the Health Navigation Program into what it is today.
“When we meet with new members, we try to look at the full picture when we assess their health,” said Joseph. “In addition to looking at their current health, we ask them if they have medical or prescription needs. We often find that some members need to be on a specific medication, but for some reason, hasn’t had that prescription filled. We identify what prevents the member from receiving the prescription and help them overcome that barrier. We also help those who are new to having medical coverage by helping them find a doctor, schedule a wellness appointment and get connected to a medical home.”
After the assessment, Health Navigators continue to work with members to modify their plan for better health. Health Navigators serve as health coaches who help individuals create and maintain healthy habits such as eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly.
“We work alongside our members and help them set goals for better health, and then we check in with them at three months and six months to see how they’re doing,” said Dehmel. “We always see significant progress over those first six months and when members reach their goals, we always rejoice with them and help them stay motivated, so they can tackle their next goal.”
“We often find out during health assessments that our members have other needs, including quality housing, food, transportation to doctor’s appointments or help paying utilities,” said Dehmel. “These are all basic needs that can become barriers to better health if they aren’t being met. We work one-on-one with our clients to make sure they have access to these necessities.”
Health Navigators connect individuals to GHP programs based on their unique needs such as our Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Services program, Senior Dental Program, and women’s health programs, including the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program and WISEWOMAN Program, which are both funded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
Health Navigators also make referrals to free or low-cost community resources such as local food pantries, the Flint Farmer’s Market and the Double Up Food Bucks program. Additionally, Health Navigators refer members to Mass Transportation Authority Flint for transportation and bus passes, and connect them to local exercise and nutrition programs including Commit to Fit, the University of Michigan Recreation Center and local walking trails in the community that offer a safe place to walk and exercise.
“We celebrate any small success and offer praise and encouragement for our members,” said Dehmel. “We help members stay on track by encouraging them to call us any time. It’s about building relationships with them, so they know they can trust us and depend on us. We essentially become a life-long buddy for them as we continue to mentor along their journey to better health.”
Dehmel added that many people who go through the Health Navigation program feel like GHP truly cares about their health.
“Members often tell us that no one has invested in their health like this before and that they are thankful to talk to someone and get their questions answered,” said Dehmel. “That’s one of the most rewarding aspects of the job – knowing that our members have someone they can count on for their health care needs.”
At the end of the day, GHP’s Health Navigators are truly committed to making sure Genesee County residents can live happier and healthier lives. GHP Health Navigation: A program you can count on, county-wide.
“Even when our days are fast-paced and keep us busy, it’s always so gratifying to see members achieve their goals and know that you’ve had an impact on their life. I feel very fortunate to work with our members,” said Joseph.
For more than 15 years, Genesee Health Plan has been Genesee County’s plan for better health. If you have questions about your health or need to connect to health care resources, call a GHP Health Navigator today at (844) 232-7740.
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