April 19, 2018

Educator does a blood testWhile the mission of the Texas A&M Coastal Bend Health Education Center has always been about improving the quality of health care for the community, a key component for putting these words into action has been through the partnerships between the center and community organizations.

In Corpus Christi and Alice, the center’s Diabetes Education and Medication Assistance programs have been able to reach and assist more people because of their collaboration with the CHRISTUS Health System.

Prescriptions or groceries?

As heath care costs continue to rise, many Texans on a fixed income are often forced to choose which of their prescriptions they can afford on a monthly basis. Sometimes, the choice is simply between groceries and prescribed medications.

The center’s Medication Assistance Program makes this choice less dire for many South Texans by working with community partners, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and county indigent programs, to expand its reach into rural, and often underserved, communities to help people get their maintenance prescriptions at little or no cost.

“We’re serving more locations than ever,” said Sandra Garcia, who manages the center’s Medication Assistance Program. “When you pair our extended reach with our collaboration with local officials and community organizations, you get a robust program that maximizes the amount of money people save on medicine.”

Since Medication Assistance began operations at the Hector P. Garcia Memorial Family Health Center in February, the program has processed more than 100 applications and saved over $450,000 in prescription costs.

That figure reflects the program’s growing service area. For example, before expansion, Medication Assistance saved Texans an average of $3.4 million per year from 2010 to 2016. In 2017, after moving into more locations, such as CHRISTUS Spohn’s clinics in Corpus Christi, Medication Assistance increased its annual savings to $5.9 million.

Fighting diabetes with education

The Diabetes Education Program has also taken advantage of office and classroom space at various CHRISTUS Health clinics in Corpus Christi and Alice.

“Our partnership with CHRISTUS Health makes it easier for people to attend diabetes education classes in their community,” said Juanita Garcia, program manager for the Diabetes Education Programs located in Corpus Christi and Kingsville. “While we still hold classes at the Education Service Center, Region 2 building and the Kleberg County Courthouse, using CHRISTUS Health facilities allows us to help even more people affected by diabetes.”

Recognized by the American Diabetes Association as an educational service that meets national standards for diabetes self-management, the program’s classes have reached about 775 people in CHRISTUS clinics in Corpus Christi and Alice since February of last year. The cost savings, which represents a reduction in patient medical costs, total nearly $600,000.

“Our program provides participants with knowledge and skills needed to manage their day-to-day diabetes care,” said Juanita Garcia. “We’re empowering people to take control of their health by reaching more people in more communities in South Texas.”

-Les Cockrell