Just weeks after his diagnosis, Otten was introduced to Charity Dobson, a community health worker at Cox Medical Center Branson. Dobson's job is to work with patients to overcome barriers to receiving care.
Since last October, Dobson has helped Otten secure disability benefits, food assistance, and health insurance. She's also helped Otten track medical appointments and facilitated services for Otten he didn’t know were available. When Otten had to use a feeding tube, Dobson delivered meal replacement shakes to his home so he could eat.
“She’s like a friend I never had,” he said. “She’s been there to take the weight off my shoulders through all of this.”
Like many individuals, Otten had little experience with the health care industry. He had many questions about his care he didn’t know who to ask, was unsure how to complete necessary paperwork and was unaware of some resources available.
“Knowing she was there has been a big relief,” he said. “It’s been the coolest thing to have someone to turn to, to ask questions and to help me along the way.”
For Dobson, it’s her job and her passion.
“I’ve been there too,” Dobson said. “I don’t always know the answers, but I’ll make the calls until I find them.”
Dobson is one of three community health workers at Cox Medical Center Branson. Community health workers can assist patients with completing forms, applying for services, tracking appointments, securing transportation and accessing resources.
In 2015, an assessment of Stone and Taney counties identified the barriers that prevent individuals from receiving necessary care as: cost, lack of transportation, lack of insurance, lack of knowledge about resources and distrust in the health care system. It was later that year that Skaggs Foundation first funded the community health worker program. Since that time, the program has been funded in whole or in part by a Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant.
In its third year, more than 540 patients have qualified for the services and approximately 70 patients are active in the program today.
“Community Health Workers are advocates for our patients,” says Maggie Lumley, CoxHealth special project operations manager. “At the same time they are advocating for patients, they are teaching them how to access resources, how to manage their care and ultimately helping them improve their health and quality of life.”
To learn more about the program and to see if you qualify, call 417-348-8610.
To learn more about Skaggs Foundation, visit SkaggsFoundation.org or call 417-348-8998.