Prenatal care program gets a special delivery
For a woman on Medi-Cal, who thinks she is pregnant, just to begin receiving her benefits can be a financial drain.
To obtain Medi-Cal’s prenatal benefits, a woman must first prove she is pregnant with a $200 examination, which Medi-Cal reimburses only if she tests positive for pregnancy.
The cost of the initial examination discourages a lot of women from going to a doctor in the early stages of pregnancy, said Colleen Williams, program coordinator for Tahoe Forest Hospital’s Special Delivery Program.
“We help women get into their first prenatal visit before Medi-Cal kicks in,” Williams said.
Williams’ Special Delivery fills in the gaps of service by providing women with the funding for the initial visit to the doctor. The program also provides services for women who aren’t eligible for Medi-Cal. Currently, 57 women in Placer, Nevada and Sierra counties are enrolled in the program.
“Pregnancy and birth outcomes improve when routine obstetrical care is initiated early, within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy,” Williams said.
Williams keeps contact with women throughout their pregnancies, through consultations, physician referrals, nutritional counseling and social service referrals.
“We try and stay connected so that the point of entry is a pregnancy test then they’ll know where to go from there,” Williams said.
A boost in funding
Special Delivery receives most of its funding, for its operating budget and Williams’ salary, from California’s Comprehensive Perinatal Service Program.
Recently, the program doubled its direct services and transportation funds with a $5,000 grant from the Lahontan Community Foundation.
“Since March, we’ve had at least 14 women have benefited from this grant,” Williams said. At least 12 women have benefited from transportation vouchers, which enable women who can’t drive to get to the doctor, Williams said.
The Lahontan Foundation chose Special Delivery for the grant for two reasons, said Lisa Dobey, CEO of the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, which distributed the grant from Lahontan.
“One reason is a strong belief in the importance of prenatal care. The second reason: It was really attractive because once the initial $200 investment was made, it would be put back into the fund by Medi-Cal,” Dobey said.
“Two hundred bucks is a lot of money for some people,” Dobey said. “If we get women in to see the doctor immediately for prenatal care, it really increases the odds of a successful pregnancy.”
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