For many Texans, seeing a doctor for a checkup or when they get sick is a luxury they just can’t afford. Access to economical health services continues to be a serious problem in many communities. In fact, EHF research shows Texas leads the nation in both the number and percentage of people without health insurance.
Helping people enroll in health insurance programs such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), county health care programs, and Affordable Care Act (ACA) health plans is one way congregations can make a meaningful and lasting contribution to community health. Congregations can also help connect people to other social services such as nutritional benefits.
Jean Kegler, former Executive Director of Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services (ECHOS), is working with EHF to identify and support congregations that want to explore ways to reduce barriers to accessing health care and other social services in their communities.
At ECHOS, Kegler’s responsibility was to improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable and at-risk individuals by eliminating the disparities in access to health care, education and job training. Jean is also a long-time member of Church of the Epiphany, served as clerk of the vestry and is very familiar with Episcopal churches.
“There are so many ways that congregations can help,” Kegler said. “Volunteers working in food pantries can ask those receiving food if their children have health coverage under the Medicaid/CHIP programs – and, if not, can direct them to resources to help them get enrolled.”
If transportation to a medical provider is the problem, Kegler says volunteers from the congregation can put in place scheduled transportation programs. She says some congregations are able to offer space inside the church to bring together those providing services and those needing the services.
“No two congregations and no two communities are alike,” Kegler said. “I am looking forward to visiting with any and all congregations as we develop unique ways to improve the health and well-being of those in need in the communities in which we live, work and worship.”
If you would like to talk with Kegler about ways your congregation can help your community increase access to health services, click here to submit your request and she will be in touch with you.