Imagine going to see your doctor for a diabetes visit and telling your physician you don’t have access to any fresh food. Maybe you’re having trouble writing a resume? Or you need some language and literacy skills to boost your chances of landing a great job to take care of your family? And what if you don’t have transportation to get where you need to go once you land that job?
That’s where Lexington Medical Center is stepping in with an organization called Unite Us to help solve these problems. Unite Us works with community organizations to address unmet health and social needs of people throughout the Midlands.
Here’s how it works: Lexington Medical Center social workers will be able to log on to EPIC, which is Lexington Medical Center’s electronic health record, and send a referral to one of dozens of community organizations that will reach out to patients in need and provide help. And the software is safe. Each patient signs a consent for the transfer of data, and there are no medical records sent between organizations.
Why is this so important? Often times, when patients arrive at the Lexington Medical Center Emergency department and need help beyond what can be provided at the hospital, social workers can only provide them with a physical resource guide and send them on their way. Instead, Unite Us provides a closed loop referral system with real-time capacity and creates a record for individuals – allowing Lexington Medical Center to identify potential gaps in care.
Unite Us is a common platform for health care systems, governmental agencies and non-profits to collaborate. Lexington Medical Center incurs the cost – so it’s free for non-profits to be part of the network.
“Access to care is consistently identified as a major health concern in our community,” said Thomas Tafel, community outreach manager at Lexington Medical Center. “This platform allows our team to effectively connect patients to many different levels of care.”
This program began at Lexington Medical Center on February 28, 2023. So far, more than 54 referrals have been sent throughout the state.
Community organizations interested in joining the Unite Us network can visit here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Lexington Medical Center is a hospital system serving Columbia, Lexington, and the rest of the South Carolina Midlands area.
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