Georgetown County program to use Duke Endowment grant to help uninsured with healthcare

The Georgetown Community Care Network plans to expand its healthcare services for uninsured residents through a $500,000 Duke Endowment grant awarded to Georgetown Memorial Hospital.

GCCN works with adults ages 19 to 64 who don’t have access to healthcare and instead may have their medical needs met in emergency rooms, said Director Linda Bonesteel. The focus is to help the individual find a provider and manage any issues over time, while using community partners to help overcome obstacles such as affordable medications, transportation to medical appointments and general nutritional needs, she said.

“We all work together so a person can get to the right care, at the right place, at the right time,” Bonesteel said. “We’ve got to create the pathways, and we want people to be empowered.”

The grant is the second for GCCN from the endowment. The first grant of $500,000 was received in 2011 to establish the program, which has served 467 residents to date, Bonesteel said. GCCN partners include a variety of organizations, such as human service providers, health educators and state agencies.

Bonesteel said the grant will help with GCCN’s goal to increase its partners with specialty medical care, increase volunteers and see 100 percent of participants maintain the use of their primary care doctor. She said the program has developed a data management system over the last 10 months and is beginning to track the impact of its work.

The grant is an investment in Georgetown County’s future, said Bonesteel, who said there are about 9,000 adults in the county who qualify for the program.

“The county has a large population of the working poor who can’t afford access to the healthcare system,” said Jackie Broach, Georgetown County spokeswoman. “Anything that makes that more available to them is good for the community, and we’re very excited about it.”

GCCN has had great community support that has allowed a lot of work to be done in the short time the program has been in operation,” Bonestreet said. In February, GCCN was one of five programs in the nation selected as a “Program of Promise” in the 2013 Hospital Charitable Service Awards. The award goes to programs with a clear vision for addressing under-served community health needs and recognizes them as models for other programs.