Community members visit health and wellness center, report shows increased numbers

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

On Tuesday, a group from Goodsell United Methodist Church in Lanett visited the Chambers County Community Health and Wellness Center and its facilities with Pastor Kelsey Barnes at the head.

The church group called Young at Heart meets on the first Tuesday of every month. Barnes said he hoped that their field trip would help spread the word about the center to the rest of the community.

“This is a great benefit to our community,” Barnes said. “In the African American community, health care — affordable, accessible health care — is very needed.”

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Barnes said that there have been fear and misconceptions about healthcare in the African American community and that he hoped bringing some of his church members to see the center would help get information out.

The group took demonstrations of the OnMed telehealth care station which allows patients to have a private, comprehensive consultation with a licensed clinician all virtually. They also learned about the different in-person events and informational sessions the center hosts through Auburn Rural Health Outreach. 

The center and program is a partnership between Auburn University Outreach, the city of LaFayette and the Chambers County Commissioners. The center held several open houses earlier this year and has since hosted Auburn University students of nursing, pharmacy, speech-language pathology, audiology and VCOM for outreach events.

The Young at Heart group rode to the center in a new Auburn University van. Auburn Outreach Director Dr. Hollie Cost said the van is available by request for groups up to 15.

“Our passion is working with the community members to help to increase their health care access, and their overall health and wellness,” Cost said. “And we can’t do without them, we want to hear from them.”

LaFayette Fire Chief Jim Doody presented the quarterly report on the progress and updates for the center and Auburn Rural Health Project during the city council meeting on Monday. 

The center has had 184 events in the second quarter. Approximately 70% of patients received prescriptions. 

In the third quarter, the number increased to over 75%  as 173 patients received prescriptions.

The Speech and Language Pathologists have screened over 30 individuals.

“That’s really our goal is to serve as many community members as possible,” Cost said. “So we are seeing a definite increase in our numbers. We do this through partnerships.”

Cost said the city of LaFayette, Chambers County Commission, Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, LaFayette Main Street and many community organizations have been great partners. 

The project received a $2 million grant for two more OnMEd care stations to be installed in the state. Fourteen telehealth carts, intended for mental health issues, will be distributed by Auburn University, according to Doody. 

Pre-COVID test kits are available at the center.

“Overall it’s been a huge, huge benefit to the citizens here. The care station we will be the model and headquarters for everything that goes through Alabama at in Lafayette,” Doody said during the meeting.

According to Doody, the center is also two clinicians away from full Medicaid and Medicare coverage for prescriptions. 

“We are the best-performing care station in OnMed,” Doody said. “So it’s something to be proud of, and we’re continuing to move forward and make better progress.”

Free OnMed demonstrations will be available for all city employees from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 19.