From coverage to care: health officials target primary care

Local - 7/22/2014 6:38 PM by Stuart Hammer

BECKLEY – What if I told you health coverage goes beyond the hospital? That staying healthy with preventative care is truly the best medicine?

“I am big on preventative care,” says Dr. Ayne Amjad, “I think it's important, not just to save money for the health care system but to save someone going thru unnecessary tests and procedures and unnecessary medications.”

More than 150,000 West Virginians have Affordable Care Act coverage, and health officials are encouraging them to take advantage.

West Virginia Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, Karen Bowling, says the health and well-being of folks in the Mountain State is severely lacking, “We are 50th in preventable hospitalizations,” says Bowling.

“If you can screen someone for high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease early on that can hopefully help them not develop these problems later on,” says Dr. Amjad, “Which can lead to strokes (and) heart attacks.”

With the Affordable Care Act comes expanded and improved benefits for those with coverage. And that’s vital to take the load off of hospitals.

“Fifty percent of our hospitalizations could be eliminated,” says Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital CEO Rocco Massey, “We struggle with readmissions because patients aren't managed while they're out of the hospital.”

Officials say we have the best health care right here in the United States. We have the technology to prevent and detect, and that saves lives. But you simply can't access that in the emergency room. You need these primary care physicians so you spend less time in the back of an ambulance, and more time at regular checkups.

“Care in an emergency room is not the kind of care that's needed in terms of primary care,” says Bowling.

Dr. Amjad believes trust is an important factor in health care, and you can build relationships with primary care doctors.

“I think when you have a primary care physician; patients are more apt to come to your office. They'll trust your judgment, you can avoid unnecessary ER visits,” she says.

Seeking out that preventative primary care is what health officials’ hope will turn West Virginia into a happier, healthy place to live.

Bowling adds it’s really as simple as a few steps to take control to live a healthier life.

“Putting your health first, understanding your health care coverage, and then knowing where to go, scheduling an appointment, and keeping it.”


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