Nurse's Desk

Food Bank-Based Outreach and Screening to Decrease Unmet Referral Needs

A doctor takes a patient's blood pressure during an office visit.

People without access to the medical system get needed referrals and health education through primary health care screenings offered in nontraditional settings.

 

The Issue:
Disparities in access to health prevention services exist along racial, ethnic, and economic lines for 18 percent of uninsured Americans (ages 18–64). Through community outreach in novel settings, vulnerable people with high blood pressure and cholesterol, and undiagnosed diabetes, can receive referrals for needed services.

 

Key Findings

  • Some 57.2 percent of participants were referred to a primary care provider for high blood pressure.

  • Based on a finger stick blood glucose test, 3.2 percent had undiagnosed diabetes; 8.9 percent were at risk of diabetes.

  • Nearly half the participants (47.4%) had no public or private insurance, compared to a national average of 18 percent. Nearly half (42.3%) did not know of the availability of a local sliding-scale clinic for care.

Results:
In response to these findings, community partners, including the local hospital, county health department, and others, allocated resources for a mobile screening unit.

About the Study:
Some 506 adult clients of the Gallatin Valley Food Bank in rural Montana visited the Nurse’s Desk while waiting for needed food. Nursing students provided the screenings for three months each spring (2008–12).

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