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"Medical Provider Shortages - Insufficient access to competent providers is a challenge throughout the region. There is a shortage of providers, especially specialty providers in the north central region. The problem increases as the distance from Wenatchee increases". This was outlined in studies sited on the North Central Accountable Community of Health (NCACH.org) website. Many studies of rural health care and rural behavioral healthcare site professional burn-out and isolation as a contributing factor in isolated communities such as Bridgeport, Pateros, and Chelan. The often-tight nit and isolated communities found in rural areas supplant care through community action, individual community members and businesses who provide assistance for health care access. Finding ways to maximize these connections and capitalize on the resilient resources already available in rural communities is a focus of groups like the NCACH.
CODIV19 crisis increases mental health issues while resources are more restricted. Most behavioral health and substance abuse services in Okanogan County and other counties in North Central Washington are getting creative with using texting, phone and video services to continue working and providing services. Contact providers for more information on their specific process. For active-duty military, reserves and guard service members and families, www.MilitaryOneSource.mil offers free counseling. Veterans are eligible for virtual sessions through Triwest and Tricare. Most insurance companies are reimbursing for virtual sessions during the crisis.
Although fewer resources are available in many of the smaller rural communities of North Central Washington, with the help of creative community members, businesses, and agencies there are more available than ever before. For example, grassroots groups like the Brave Warrior Project in Cashmere supports families with children with sensory disabilities by offering fun activities specifically designed for children with sensory issues.
Access to education and jobs has a direct and measurable impact on the social determinants of health. Since North Central Washington struggles with unemployment, poverty and a very high rate of workers with no high school diplomas, this is a crucial area of focus when it comes to the health of the region. Again, the community resiliency and alternative ways of looking at these problems have helped create effective ways to help people stay employed, gain skills and find employment. For example, check out, Okanogan Work Source is a "one-stop-shop" for unemployment and job resources.
As of March 2020, independent contractors and employees are eligible for unpredicted unemployment assistance. Contact the Employment Security Department https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment Also, small businesses are being helped to continue to with payroll through SBA. Check out the Paycheck Protection Program. https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options