10 22 2014
  6:40 pm  
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OHSU is partnering with downtown Portland community service organizations in a new effort to help medically vulnerable individuals and families.

Through the I-CAN (Interprofessional Care Access Network) program, they hope to put more boots on the ground to improve healthcare education and outreach.

"I think it's always important when we as healthcare people are entering other people's communities to recognize there's a lot that we don't know," says Rachel Solotaroff, the medical director at Central City Concern, an I-CAN community partner. "We would welcome feedback from the community. The last thing you want is another initiative that makes the caregivers feel good but isn't helping or worse, is doing some harm."

The program is funded through a three year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

I-CAN will create student care teams that help clients navigate healthcare systems and other community services. According to OHSU, I-CAN will be looking at services that provide resources that impact health outcomes like housing assistance, food aid, financial management, education, etc.

Solotaroff hopes that she and other service people involved with the program will get a better sense of how the students they spend a large amount of time educating interact with each other.

"I don't know anywhere else where there is a program which is combining that kind of interprofessional learning with community agencies in particular neighborhoods to really learn how to serve vulnerable populations," she says. "We have the ingredients in some places but we lack the time and the expertise to pull it all together."

She adds that another goal of the program is to improve what the healthcare community terms "Triple Aim." This refers to reducing the per capita cost of healthcare, improving quality and improving patients' experiences so they feel included, have their needs met and feel that the service is culturally responsive.

"We focus so much of our care on the healthcare system, on hospitals and clinics and specialists, and not on how people are faring out in the world in their daily lives," says Solotaroff. "I think this idea of I-CAN being out there in the community and actually working with folks and not just being inside a clinic, it really leverages our ability to be able to get better information and best care coordination for people, taking into account their environment and really meeting them where they are."

 I-CAN will be focused in Old Town for its first year of operation. The program will branch out to Southern Oregon's west Medford neighborhoods during its second year and come to SE Portland for its third year. The SE Portland I-CAN will focus on immigrants and refugees.

According to project manager Launa Mathews, if an individual or family wants to utilize I-CAN, they need to get a referral from one of the program's collaborative academic partners. In the case of Old Town, these institutions are MacdonaldCenter, Neighborhood House and Central City Concern in downtown Portland. Mathews encourages those who live outside of this area but know someone that might be interested to pass the information along.

Students at these institutions will be providing services like health evaluations and screenings. During this process, people interested in I-CAN can inform the students on what they feel is their most primary concern and then determine if the organization's plan is a good match.

Mathews says it will be a shared learning process.

"Our intent is we'll learn things from working with them that will be useful to benefitting a larger population," she says. "We're hoping to learn as we benefit the individuals that are referred and they benefit us."

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