Access to Primary Care Among Vulnerable Patients in a Rural Setting
AuthorBarnett, Eve Grinnell
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractBackground/Objectives: Vulnerable populations, particularly those with mental illness, are at a significantly higher risk of developing chronic health comorbidities and facing barriers to regular healthcare, often resulting in a shorter lifespan than the average population. The purpose of this needs assessment of a rural population utilizing a local food bank and soup kitchen is to assess the health status of the population in relation to mental health and chronic illness, and to determine this population’s access and utilization of primary care services. The data collected in this assessment will identify potential needs for formal community partnerships and help develop recommendations to improve health status of this potentially vulnerable community. Design: This study consisted of a needs assessment involving an orally administered survey to a potentially vulnerable population evaluating socio-demographic factors, chronic illness, mental health diagnoses, and questions regarding primary care access and utilization using the Primary Care Assessment Tool (PCAT). Setting: The study took place at the Flagstaff Family Food Center (FFFC), a local food bank and soup kitchen in Northern Arizona. Data collection took place during the free dinner meal over two site visits. Participants: Clients utilizing the FFFC who are English speaking, 18 years of age and older, able to give informed consent. Results: Data collected shows that a large number of FFFC clientele would be classified as vulnerable, and several report mental illness and other chronic illness. One hundred percent of survey participants report having health insurance, yet two participants report not having a primary care provider (PCP) and using the emergency department for their healthcare needs. While the majority of clients report having easy access to their PCP, the ongoing care and coordination of services appears to be lacking. Conclusion: Based on this pilot needs assessment, there is a need for more formal partnerships between healthcare providers and organizations and the FFFC to ensure this vulnerable population receives adequate care for chronic disease management, mental illness and prevention. By providing connections at the FFFC where clients come to receive a free meal, some of the common barriers of stigma, transportation and system navigation may be eliminated.
Degree ProgramGraduate College