Circle of Care: A Solution Model
The Circle of Care begins with the "health of the individual" at its core and extends out into the "well-being of the individual," which captures all non-medical needs. On a daily basis, individuals come to La Maestra for one type of service and end up identifying several other services available to meet their greater, and perhaps unrecognized needs.
Sometimes these "other needs" represent co-morbidities - undiagnosed health problems. Our physicians, dentists, counselors and staff recognize these other problems and refer the patient to the appropriate department at La Maestra or to our partner organizations for timely diagnosis and treatment. We provide assistance with insurance eligibility and applications so patients can understand their options for accessing healthcare. In addition, La Maestra has had a dispensary since 2000 stocked with medicines from programs for uninsured low-income patients, and we opened a culturally‑competent, comprehensive pharmacy onsite in 2008 to ensure that insured patients obtain the prescriptions they need and understand how to take the medication.
In addition to providing medical, dental and mental healthcare and education,
La Maestra provides many social services to enable our low-income and immigrant community members become self-reliant. Our enabling services include translation, transportation, and assistance finding self-supporting jobs, continuing education and training opportunities, financial literacy education and affordable safe housing in a healthy community in which to live and raise a family along with our daily healthcare and social services, La Maestra helps out the families in our community through special programs like our weekly food pantry (where we distribute nutrition information and healthy recipes with food) and our annual holiday food and toy drive. Every holiday season, La Maestra distributes thousands of toys for the children and gifts for low‑income families in our communities, donated by community members and local and national companies. Any toys and gifts left after the holidays are given throughout the year to families in need and as incentives in our health education programs..
La Maestra's Circle of Care approach makes it unique among the healthcare organizations in the region. Its total commitment to the health and well-being of the individual and his or her family extends far beyond what normal healthcare organizations are prepared to provide. This unique model has been tested by La Maestra Community Health Centers for twenty one years and serves as a framework of the design our new facility and its programs. The Circle of Care is embedded in core values, such as compassionate care and self-sufficiency, to ensure that the needs of the entire individual are met. At La Maestra, residents find not only a "medical home" but also a supportive family that cares about their total well-being
We are coming to understand that to keep people healthy, we need to address factors that used to be outside the purview of the exam room—social determinants like housing and access to food. This means integrating medical care with social services and taking on projects that help patients solve problems that can stymie effective healthcare. La Maestra Community Health Centers in San Diego have pursued an ambitious integration model for meeting all the needs of their vulnerable patient population. They call this approach the Circle of Care.’
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