Access to health insurance and affordable basic health care is a challenge for many in Northeast Oregon, even during good times. In the midst of a recession, the challenge becomes all the greater.
That’s why it’s good news that Northeast Oregon Network has received a solid grant foundation to continue its operation. The network, formed in 2004, is dedicated to helping Union, Wallowa and Baker County residents get better access to health care. Recently, the network received three grants totaling more than $600,000. The grants will help the organization continue to improve health care access across the region.
Two of the grants came from the federal government. The third came from The Regence Foundation. Taken together, the grants put wind in the sails of NEON and its mission to connect struggling people to health care providers and make sure no one is falling through the cracks.
When 15 percent of the population is uninsured, and the jobless rate hovers above 10 percent, health care access becomes ever more critical. Now it is cold and flu season. With the swine flu outbreak in the headlines, sometimes a little too close to home for comfort, getting to a doctor for some segments of the population can be a life or death matter.
The grants should help. NEON says the grants will help it create jobs locally as well as make the communities it serves healthier. Among the beneficiaries is NEON’s Covering Kids and Families Eastern Oregon Program, which connects families with a primary care medical home.
Having access to affordable health care close to home is crucial for the overall livability of the region. Having a family doctor may be something many of us take for granted. Not having one in a health crisis can be devastating. Not having a good doctor to coordinate health care and make referrals to specialists can lead to more trips to the emergency rooms and more costs for everybody.
Congratulations go out to NEON for landing these grants and using them to further its mission.