NH senior health care scores high community health workers can improve this / Public News Service

A new report ranks New Hampshire as the fourth healthiest state in the country for seniors, but a lack of home health care workers and high-speed internet access is isolating those living in the northern counties.

The state’s uninsured rate has fallen by more than 20% since 2019, but seniors still show a high prevalence of cardiovascular disease and multiple chronic conditions.

Dr. Rhonda Randall, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of UnitedHealthcare Employer and Individual, said more seniors are living with depression and would benefit from access to telehealth services.

“This is important because it helps us connect with our family and friends,” Randall emphasized. “It helps us connect with our healthcare providers when we need to consult a doctor or access care remotely.”

Randall pointed out that although the number of geriatric health care professionals has increased nationally, too many families still rely on relatives for help. More than 15% of Americans provide unpaid care to an older adult.

It is estimated that one-third of Granite Staters will be 65 years or older by 2030 and will require long-term services. As the state faces a serious shortage of home health practitioners, some say community health workers can help fill the gap, ensuring that people on fixed incomes in more remote areas have food, warmth, safe housing and transportation to manage their health. retain.

Annette Carbonneau, director of community health worker programs for the North Country Health Consortium, said community health workers are reducing emergency room visits, easing the burden on an already strained system.

“They go to people’s houses,” Carbonneau noted. “And meet with individuals, help find the resources, help that person navigate the resources and confirm that they have been navigated, to increase their access to care.”

Carbonneau added that community health workers are a good fit for the independent nature of many New Hampshire seniors and that the state has performed well in their recruitment so far. State lawmakers are now considering creating a certification program for such workers, which would allow them to bill the state Medicaid agency for reimbursement.

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