How nonprofits, individuals are tackling the Rochester healthcare gap

Nonprofits helping to bridge the gap in providing healthcare

Nonprofits helping to bridge the gap in providing healthcare

ROCHESTER, N.Y.When was the last time you went to the doctor? For many in Rochester, it was way too long ago. Whether it’s getting time off, finding the money, or finding the transportation, getting to the doctor’s office can be a big challenge for some.

This is called the healthcare gap — and it’s a big problem, according to providers in the Rochester area.

“Particularly with maternal healthcare and with breast cancer screening color cancer screening, there’s a disparity in African Americans and Latinos compared to the general population,” Dr. Lisa Harris said.

Harris — the senior VP and Chief Medical Officer Of Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield — said that other factors contributing to the healthcare gap include poverty and living in a rural area. Tuesday morning, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield recognized six nonprofits that are working to bridge that gap. 

Among them was Geneseo Parish Outreach, which nurse Linda Weaver founded 20 years ago. She got the idea when her church started taking people’s blood pressures. 

“I would say, ‘Are you on medication?’ ‘Well, yeah, I’m on medication but I haven’t been able to buy it because I had to buy groceries, so I haven’t been taking my medicine.'” Weaver said. “So we realized along with other medical providers in the church that […] people in our own community needed help.”

The six nonprofits recognized were:

Kristine Miller, a nurse practitioner who runs the clinic at Rochling Medical three days a week, realized she was having the same conversation after talking with the employees at the factory.

“I’ll say, ‘When’s the last time you had a physical?’ and they’re like, ‘Oh, ten years ago,’ and they’re 55 years old. So I’;; get them in – and then i found a lot of women not having mammograms,” Miller said.

The U.S. Preventative Task Force says if you’re over 40, you should have a mammogram every other year — every year if you’re over 50.But a lot of people don’t get them or even routine checkups. So Miller coordinated with Rochester Regional Health to bring healthcare to them with a “Mobile Mammography Center” vehicle.

“in this setting they don’t lose any work hours, they’re still getting paid when they come on this bus – typically you have to take an entire day off unless you’re probably a salaried employee,” she said. Miller said several women Tuesday had their first mammogram.

Practitioners say when you meet people where they’re at, you bridge the healthcare gap.