Kentucky Homeplace, Center for Rural Health, 750 Morton Blvd., Hazard, KY 41701, (606) 439-3557
Kentucky Homeplace, a program of the University of Kentuckys Center for Rural Health, does not directly provide health care. Instead, its purpose is to help people who believe they have no access to health care find and use the services they are entitled to. Since 1994, its lay workers, known as Family Health Care Advisors, have been fanning out across 58 counties in eastern, western, and southern Kentucky to help people navigate the often bewildering health care system.
Given the high levels of asthma, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and other chronic conditions in the area it serves, Kentucky Homeplace places particular emphasis on preventive services. Homeplace workers often connect people with services that will help them better manage a condition so that it doesnt become life-threatening. They also gather data for long-term studies of health conditions in the area in order to help define the most urgent needs.
Homeplace staff members are hired from within the communities they serve, making it easier for people to open up to them about health problems. The advisors visit people at home to assess health needs, then serve as advocates for their clients by providing information about available care, helping to fill out paperwork or obtain medications, or even arranging transportation to medical appointments.
Paul Vance, a Homeplace worker from Pine Top, explains that the people he serves are not necessarily poor or needyjust isolated from the information they need.
They are people who have worked their whole lives. Theyve saved and made a good life, he says. And now theyve gotten older, theyve gotten sick.... [And] the cost of medicines is just eroding all their savings away.
In many cases, people caught in such a financial bind will elect to do without medical care as long as they can. By intervening earlier, Homeplace can not only improve the quality of life for the client, but also save money in the long run. An internal audit of the programs first nine months estimated that it had saved approximately $1.2 million in health care costs by averting institutionalization and hospitalization and finding free care for people who would have done without until their condition required extensive and costly treatment.