Outreach team provides health insurance help in Spanish and Mandarin

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Outreach team provides health insurance help in Spanish and Mandarin

Health insurance can seem complicated in any language. Employees at Christiana Care are teaming up to make it easier.

With language expertise in Spanish and Mandarin, the Community Health Outreach and Education team at Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute is partnering with Christiana Care’s marketplace guides to boost health insurance enrollment in Delaware’s Latino and Chinese communities.

Christiana Care’s marketplace guides program, developed by the Department of Family & Community Medicine, includes 12 specially trained employees who counsel Delawareans about their insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. Since the U.S. Health Insurance Marketplace opened in October, the guides have reached more than 10,000 people and enrolled more than 200 Delawareans in health insurance plans.

“Our guides have been highly successful in helping Delawareans without health insurance learn about their options and obtain coverage,” said Michael Rosenthal, M.D., chair of Family & Community Medicine. “As part of Christiana Care’s commitment to providing access to care, extending this collaborative effort with the Cancer Center allows us to reach more members of our community.”

The partnership between the marketplace guides, with two Spanish speakers on staff, and the multilingual staff at the Cancer Center puts insurance access within closer reach for Latino and Chinese Delawareans.

“We’ve made it a goal to work across programs and bring the value of what each of us is doing directly to our patients,” said Nora C. Katurakes, RN, MSN, OCN, manager of Community Health Outreach and Education at the Cancer Center. “It’s in keeping with The Christiana Care Way and with our commitment to provide the best care to the patients and neighbors we serve.”

Pedro Castaneda, who learned about the health insurance marketplace at a Christiana Care men’s health conference, appreciated the Spanish-language help with health insurance available the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.
Pedro Castaneda, who learned about the health insurance marketplace at a Christiana Care men’s health conference, appreciated the Spanish-language help with health insurance available the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.

Earlier this month, Pedro Castaneda was on his way to having health insurance. While attending a men’s conference for members of the Hispanic community, he heard about a special enrollment event at the Cancer Center from Luisa Ortiz-Aponte, Healthy Families project manager, who explained the steps involved in enrollment.

“The collaboration with the marketplace guides has been a tremendous benefit to our patients and community,” said Katurakes. To assist in the enrollment effort, Katurakes set aside office space in the Cancer Center for the guides to meet with individuals and families. The marketplace guides have joined the Community Health Outreach and Education team in visits to churches, community centers and the New Castle Farmer’s Market, raising awareness about both cancer screenings and health insurance.

“Our partnership gives us a great opportunity to follow up with the people we meet,” said Marketplace Guide Coordinator Lauren Pendergast, BS, RD.

Fen Gu, a community outreach coordinator at the Cancer Center, has worked with scores of people whose primary language is Mandarin Chinese. Using a list of patients already receiving services at the Graham Cancer Center, she contacted 60 families by phone, e-mail and in person to explain the new health care law and how Christiana Care can help with health insurance.

By March 21, she had assisted 42 families. and one of the enrollees was about to receive her first mammogram under the Affordable Care Act, she said.

“I love being able to help people go through this process,” Gu said.

Nicholas J. Petrelli, M.D., the Bank of America endowed medical director of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, said assisting Delawareans with health insurance is an important complement to their care.

“The rate of death from cancer in Delaware continues to drop twice as fast as the U.S. rate as a whole,” Dr. Petrelli said. “That’s tremendous progress. As more people receive health coverage and cancer screenings, we should do even better in the fight against cancer and the overall health of our Delaware neighbors.”

March 31 is the last day to enroll and receive coverage for the 2014 plan year. To learn more, call 302-320-6586 to talk with a marketplace guide.

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