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Articles to Stay Healthy.

What comes first? Your health, your children, or paying the rent?

By Tiffani Mantegna, Director of Care Management, Finger Lakes Community Health, an independent healthcare organization with eight health centers in the region.

Like many of us, you may feel like you have too much going on and are not sure which problem to tackle first.  Do you have a safe place to live and regular meals? Are you looking for a new job?  This often leads to putting your own health last and missing medical appointments.  Then when you are not well, you often go to the hospital emergency department but there are other solutions you may not be aware of.

Health Home of Upstate New York (HHUNY) is a care management program where the patient is at the center of the many services offered. As part of this program, you will get a care manager to collaborate with you to get the services you need to be both healthy and successful in other parts of your life. We start with an assessment of your goals and add the team members that you need. They may include a primary care provider (medical), mental health therapist, psychiatrist, reproductive healthcare, dentist, and specialists to help with chronic conditions like diabetes.

The program starts by having the care manager and patients discuss their goals, strengths, weaknesses, and barriers to reaching those goals. The focus of each session is to discuss issues and create a success plan.

You will have a team working with you to reach your goals

Success does not happen overnight, typically patients work with us for a year or two, but it does happen! Together we create programs that lead you to your goals, but it is important that you stay with the program and follow through. For instance, make every effort to see your therapist. If transportation is an issue, then your care manager can help you set up therapy sessions by phone or video or even assist with Medicaid transportation. For every problem, we work with you to find a solution.

You probably did not know all these services are at your fingertips but once you enroll in the program, you will have a dedicated group of professionals to help you. To qualify for these services, you need to be on NYS Medicaid, reside in Ontario, Wayne, Seneca, Yates, or Steuben counties, and have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, HIV/AIDS, or have two or more of the following conditions: a Substance Use Disorder (SUD), mental health condition, Asthma, Diabetes, Heart Disease, a BMI over 25, or another chronic condition, as well as risk factors.

Is there a program for children? Yes.

The Children’s Health Home of Upstate New York Network (CHHUNY) is offered at Finger Lakes Community Health and other health centers to assist patients from ages 5-to 21. They too will have a care manager. The core of this program, like the one for adults, is that all the child’s caregivers collaborate with one another so that the family’s needs are addressed in their community and at home.  The FLCH Care Manager will support and provide access to services, assuring that they have everything necessary to stay healthy and in school, out of the emergency room, and out of the hospital.

Often services for children also involve working with the schools to ensure they get the services needed. This can be even more difficult for parents who have a child with special needs. Understanding what services are best for your child can be confusing. The school treatment team that you will meet with could include physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, classroom teachers, and counselors. Sound overwhelming? Well, it can be. That is why our care managers often go with parents to these meetings.

Additional services for the elderly and our farmworkers.

We have started to provide case management services to anyone 60 years of age and over, on Medicare, have private insurance, or are uninsured.  And FLCH has always had Community Health Workers who are very much like the care managers for adults and children. The only difference is that their focus is on farmworkers and the uninsured.

Our Care Managers are here because they believe everyone deserves to get help to be healthy and happy.



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