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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 23, 2009 at 4:06 PM

Health care and balancing the state budget

Truly a medical home

Carol M. Ostrom’s feature on medical homes [“Curing what ails us,” Pacific Northwest magazine, Jan. 18] points to the importance of centering health care around the patient. However, this feature ignores the 30-year track record of community health centers in the state.

Community health centers are health-care homes because they have all the ingredients of a medical home and they integrate medical, dental and behavioral health, as well as additional services to support the needs of the most vulnerable — the low income, uninsured and underinsured — for better health outcomes.

For International Community Health Services, this means offering culturally competent care and wraparound services, including translation and interpretation, education, outreach and eligibility services, which reduce barriers and maximize the effectiveness of care. Last year, they served approximately 16,000 patients in more than20 languages on a regular basis in the International District and Rainier Valley clinics.

They are a “one-stop shop” with a team of employees providing primary care and helping patients access the complex health-care system, including specialty care and, when needed, hospitalization.

They are not only a medical- and dental-health provider, but a friend and support system. They are truly a health-care home.

— Teresita Batayola, Seattle

Blinded by short-term savings

I find the plan to cut funding for community family-planning nurses in an effort to balance the Washington state budget to be irresponsible and poorly thought-out.These nurses are part of an effective program that provides much-needed family-planning services to people with low incomes.

In such economic times when the rich are still richer and the poor still poorer, maintaining a program that is matched by federal funds ninefold, and that extends contraceptive services — as well as prenatal care, annual exams and cancer screenings to women who may not be able to get similar services elsewhere — is well worth holding close and dear.

While it is enticing to see the brief savings of the short-term cut, the only way we are going to heal the strength and structure of our financial systems is if we begin to think about the long-term effects.

Punishing people with low incomes and harming their health-care rights and services is not any sort of way to build back the foundation of our state’s economy.

Positive growth will get us much further than endangerment.

— Olivia Corrado, Seattle

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