Help and Healing Fund assists patients in need
By Courtney Bernard, LMH Health
What happens when a patient must choose whether to pay for a critical antibiotic or put food on their family’s table that night? Or what happens to the patient who is discharged from a hospital stay but cannot afford the medical equipment needed to complete their recovery at home?
In 2006, the LMH Health Foundation established the Help and Healing Fund to help patients in need with expenses for medications, medical equipment or other necessities for healing and recovery after a hospital stay.
The Help and Healing Fund provides up to $300 or a 30-day supply of medication that LMH Health physicians have prescribed. So far this year, the LMH Health Foundation has provided support for 541 requests from patients for the medications and medical equipment they needed, an increase from 326 requests fulfilled in 2017.
“It’s so important to take the medications that we prescribe, and if our patients can’t afford their medications, they obviously are at risk,” said Dr. Marc Scarbrough chief of the LMH Health medical staff. “I give to the Help and Healing Fund because my donation goes directly to these patients who are in need.”
This assistance, which is critical to ensure patients stay on the path to healthy living and safe healing, is funded through private donations and the LMH Health Employee Campaign.
“When you’re blessed and have a good life, you want to help people who are less fortunate,” said Becki Dick, an LMH Health donor and Help & Healing Fund supporter. “We love living in Douglas County, and we want everyone here to have the quality of life they deserve.”
LMH Health social workers and nurses identify patients who are at risk financially, then help them become approved for funding to fill their prescription or purchase an essential medical device. The social workers also will connect patients to assistance programs for continued help.
“The Help and Healing Fund helps people take care of their own health and keeps them out of a crisis situation that might mean they would end up back in the hospital,” said Linda Gall, senior director of care coordination at LMH Health. “This isn’t a Band-Aid solution. Our social workers go the extra mile all of the time to make sure people get what they need for the long term.”
Items that the Help and Healing Fund can support have expanded in the last few years. Initially, the fund was used for medicine and durable medical equipment, such as a walker or bedside commode. Now, the fund can be used for items including a month’s supply of oxygen, scales, blood pressure cuffs and equipment for respiratory machines.
Gall noted that a considerable amount of Help and Healing Fund assistance supports patients in psychiatric crisis.
“We see so many people who are in a psychiatric crisis and usually it’s because they’ve stopped taking their medication,” said Gall. “If we can refill the medication and get them back to their baseline, they're able to function in society. That small amount to fill a prescription one time will help people get back on track. It’s a domino effect.”
As a community-owned, not-for-profit hospital, LMH Health serves the healthcare needs of the community regardless of a person’s ability to pay. Last year, LMH Health provided charitable care in 10,371 cases – nearly 200 each week.
“A donation to the Help and Healing Fund, no matter what dollar amount, is going to touch someone's life,” Gall said. “It will improve their health and improve their whole lifestyle because they're able to function again.”
Courtney Bernard is a development coordinator for LMH Health Foundation. Courtney can be reached at Courtney.Bernard@lmh.org.