Friday, July 15, 2016

Cumberland County Health Department Kicks-Off “Live Healthy Cumberland County” Program to Help 27 Local Corner Store Owners Stock Healthier Foods

Today, I’m excited to join with community leaders and public officials in Cumberland County to kick off “Live Healthy Cumberland County,” a program supported by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI) and a $ 550,000 partnership grant from United Health Foundation.

The effort aims to reduce chronic disease by increasing the number of healthy food items available at 27 local corner stores throughout Cumberland County and providing free health screenings for residents.

Live Healthy Cumberland County is part of a public-private partnership with local health care and community leaders working to improve health and quality of life in Cumberland County, Trenton and Jersey City.

The grant will support five organizations and their affiliates participating in the project. In Cumberland County, NJHCQI partners with the Cumberland County Health Department and Inspira Health Network. NJHCQI project partners in Jersey City are the Jersey City Department of Health and the Jersey City Medical Center. The Trenton Health Team is NJHCQI’s project partner in Trenton.

“We greatly appreciate the work of Megan Sheppard and her staff at the Cumberland County Health Department in taking a proactive approach to address the health challenges we encounter in Cumberland County. We are also very appreciative of all the partners who have stepped up to help us bring this project to fruition,” said Board of Health Liaison Freeholder Carol Musso.

Live Healthy Cumberland County was created by the Cumberland/Salem/Gloucester Health and Wellness Alliance which includes representatives from more than forty-two organizations. The goal of Live Healthy Cumberland County is to improve health outcomes throughout the region. Cumberland County Health Department is partnering with the Vineland Health Department and Vineland YMCA to implement Live Healthy Cumberland County.

“The Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders is very pleased to be a part of this collaborative effort. As this project moves forward it will create a healthier Cumberland County,” said Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joe Derella.

Local elected officials, Cumberland County residents as well as representatives from the Cumberland County Health Department, Inspira Health Network, the Vineland Health Department, Vineland YMCA, NJHCQI, UnitedHealthcare and local corner-stores joined the kickoff event.

“This initiative addresses some of the biggest barriers to health care our neighbors face by improving access to healthy foods, creating safe spaces to relax and exercise, and supporting other essential community services, said Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of NJHCQI.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Telemedicine helps people get faster, more convenient care

For many people, getting to the doctor can be a major hassle. It may mean waiting a few days until the next available appointment, scheduling time off of work or finding a babysitter. And for some people, particularly those who live in rural areas or in areas with a shortage of physicians, it may require significant travel.

Thus, some people avoid going to the doctor for minor medical issues, which may cause the issue to worsen. Others may choose to visit an urgent care clinic, which typically has more convenient hours but is also far more expensive.

Fortunately, many health insurers are making telemedicine benefits available to more people. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that 74 percent of employers now cover virtual doctor visits in their health plans, up from 48 percent in 2015. Virtual doctor visits enable patients experiencing a non-urgent health issue to consult a physician via video chat using their phones, computers, smartphones or tablets. Patients often use the service to treat minor medical conditions such as allergies, sinus infections, bladder infections and other conditions.

As many people become more comfortable using technology to access critical services such as banking and transportation, they are likewise increasingly using technology to make health care services more convenient. According to the American Telemedicine Association, more than 10 million people directly benefited from using telemedicine in 2014, and the numbers continue to increase. At UnitedHealthcare, 95 percent of people who used one of our telehealth services said they would definitely use the service again.

Without question, virtual doctor visits don’t take the place of critical medical care. But for consultations and prescriptions to treat minor medical issues, people should find out whether their insurer offers telemedicine services to help them quickly and efficiently get the care they need.