With each day that goes by, our systems, our communities and our lives are more disrupted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Over the past two weeks, we have all had to adjust to hard new realities each day: schools closed, events canceled, businesses shut down, increased distance from friends and loved ones, all in a collective effort to slow the spread of this deadly virus.
Unfortunately, we are at the tipping point when what started as shared prevention must now also include shared sacrifice, as hospitals across the region brace for thousands of Oregonians who will need life-saving care in the coming days. Our region’s health care system is urgently working to shift resources to prepare for the upcoming surge in extremely sick patients.
Shifting resources to save lives
This has real impacts on the lives of everyone in our communities, including Health Share members. We are all being asked to help save our friends’ and neighbors’ lives by postponing our own non-urgent or routine medical and dental appointments. We are also asking this of you, our members at Health Share. It’s a hard ask to make, and one we do not make lightly.
Health Share was built on a shared commitment to bring together the region’s health plans, delivery systems, providers, and community organizations to achieve a healthy community for all. Our mission is to achieve the best possible health for each individual. As a lifelong health care provider myself, it is heart-breaking to find our health system in this life-and-death situation that requires us to temporarily limit some of the services our members count on. It is a sacrifice we are all making to save lives, and we are grateful for our members’ support.
Creating new connections
The good news is that the culture and system of collaboration Health Share’s partners have built together over the past 6 years have prepared us well to respond together to this unprecedented crisis.Even as we ask our members to postpone some appointments, we are working hard to set up new systems to maintain access to care. We are collaborating across the Health Share family of plans and providers to increase the availability of telemedicine (appointments by telephone and over the web) — especially for the behavioral health services that we know remain critical in these stressful times.
We also know that many of our members are facing economic hardship as businesses and institutions are forced to close their doors to protect public health. We have created a new (and growing) Community Resources page and we will be working with our community partners to help Health Share members connect with resources like food assistance, educational tools and unemployment benefits. When people lose their jobs (even temporarily) the Oregon Health Plan is a critical safety net to maintain care and coverage, and we encourage you to let your friends and family know about this resource and to enroll so that they will not have to worry about healthcare coverage during this time.
We have also set up a Coronavirus page with important information from the CDC and the Oregon Health Authority about how to keep you and your family members healthy.
The power of collaboration
At Health Share, we know that collaboration — across health and social systems, communities and county lines — is one of our most powerful tools to address big challenges like the public health crisis we are now facing. I am proud of how quickly Health Share’s staff and partners have come together to support our members, our communities and each other.
I am particularly thankful for the courage and compassion of the thousands of health care providers and all those who work in health care, who are already working around the clock to care for Oregonians affected by this deadly virus. These care teams are risking their own health and safety to save Oregonians lives, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.
We are truly in this together.