Community Connections for Health Care

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Community Connections for Health Care - Part I of IV

by Joan Bachman

Although I chose “Community Connections for Health Care” as the byline for Options Unlimited for definable reasons more than 2 decades ago, the need for connections in health care seems even more critical than it was in the mid-1990s because there are so many more provider types. The increasing scope of health care providers includes a range from those who have no professional status but claim to offer health benefits or healing powers to the more traditional highly specialized experts in a narrow field of medicine. There are almost too many provider types for anyone to name without research. Any individual in need of some health or medical service should welcome help to navigate this wide range of providers. A current health care provider is the most logical resource for offering this navigation.

I think of the provider types as being separated into several categories including Community Providers, Outpatient Providers, Inpatient Providers, and In-Home Providers. This separation may be somewhat useful in recognizing how best to assist your clients in making decisions for their health care.

Community Providers

Community Providers is a loose term used here to give an idea of the many resources that may be available and important to some of your clients at some time. Clients may be referred or self-refer to Community Providers: pharmacies, durable medical equipment suppliers, the public health system, faith community nurses, foot clinics, vaccination clinics, wellness and fitness centers, social service and mental health agencies, WIC (federal program for women, infants, and children), school nurses, industrial health clinics, shelters & halfway houses, foster care, group homes, and community action agencies (CAA). Some of these providers may not be available in small or rural communities.

Outpatient Providers

Outpatient Providers serve patients for a time period less than 24 hours. Outpatients are under the care of a licensed health care professional. Examples of outpatient providers include medical clinics (specialty clinics, rural health, and federally qualified health clinics), dental clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, hospital outpatient departments such as the emergency room and diagnostic services, physical therapy and occupational therapy clinics, audiology and speech-language pathologists, dietitian/nutritionist services, chiropractic clinics, addiction and mental health outpatient therapy services, renal dialysis centers, telemedicine services, adult day care and respite care, reflexologists, and massage therapists.

Inpatient Providers

Inpatient Providers offer services which exceed 24 hours. Inpatients are under the care of a medical professional and qualified staff members. Examples of Inpatient Providers are hospitals (acute care, specialty, rehabilitation, long-term acute care hospitals, and swing bed units), skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, assisted living facilities, respite care, residential care facilities, mental health and substance abuse treatment centers, and hospice.

In-home Providers

In-Home providers are gaining more attention as the population ages. In-Home providers include home health services (skilled nursing, therapy, personal care, and home-making services), personal care services, respite care, and hospice.

Just for the fun of it, see how many of these providers, and even more, are in your community and how you might become “connected” to them for the benefit of your clients.

About the Author

Joan Bachman

Joan Bachman is a Registered Nurse, Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Registered Health Information Technician, and Faith Community Nurse. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Joan has experience as a Nurse, Administrator, Developer, Trainer, Grant Writer, and served as Administrator of SD State Survey Agency. She has consulted with health care facilities and nonprofit organizations and presented leadership training. Joan is the author of Guidebook for Assisted Living Facilities and Senior Service Providers and Guidebook for Physician Services in the Nursing Facility, and she has published in professional journals.


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No wonder people are confused. Thanks for clarifing.

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