Walmart Foundation takes EHRs to Baton Rouge

By Bernie Monegain
09:55 AM

Children's Health Fund (CHF) is expanding healthcare services in rural areas as part of a $925,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation. The funds will enable CHF to introduce electronic health records to Baton Rouge, La., purchase a new mobile medical clinic to serve West Virginia residents, expand dental services in Arkansas and medical services in Memphis, Tenn., and launch mental health services in southern Arizona.

Children's Health Fund bills itself as the nation's leading pediatric provider of mobile-based healthcare for homeless and low-income children and their families, regardless of their ability to pay. The expansion of services will help nearly 10,000 children and family members – through 35,000 medical encounters – receive comprehensive medical, mental health, social services, health education and case management services, according to CHF executives.

"Families living in poverty experience a myriad of challenges to obtaining healthcare services, which can often be exaggerated by barriers created by living in isolated rural areas," said CHF President Irwin Redlener, MD. This includes lack of public transportation, physician shortages, and severely strained educational and public resources. We are delighted to partner with the Walmart Foundation to bring even more medical, mental and dental health services and professionals to rural areas, especially when poor families are struggling just to survive during these tough economic times."

"In these difficult times, the work we do to support local communities is more important than ever," said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. "Our grant to Children's Health Fund reinforces our commitment to support organizations that are helping people live better."

When children lack access to visit a physician, they routinely fall behind on immunizations and routine well-child care, causing increased incidence of untreated and chronic illnesses, increased use of emergency rooms for non-emergency care, and an increase in preventable hospitalizations, according to CHF. In rural areas, it is estimated that families travel 20 miles further to reach a primary care provider and 75 percent of rural communities do not have public transportation available to get to pediatric health care services.

CHF's mobile medical clinics go into underserved neighborhoods and provide care to children at schools, community centers, homeless shelters and other places in the heart of the community. Additional funding from the grant is supporting CHF's national efforts including, the printing and distribution of a healthy lifestyle educational guide.

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