Last year, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) engaged 504HealthNet to lead a coordinated effort to respond to the health care needs of a very special population: New Orleans Hospitality Workers. Many within this population face barriers to accessing health care and paying for it for various reasons.
504HealthNet is developing and implementing a systems-level approach to build stronger community-clinical linkages for the industry that will decrease barriers for workers to access health care. The initiative is 3 pronged: 1) a media and communications campaign to increase awareness among hospitality workers about 504HealthNet’s services and member organizations, 2) one-on-one navigation support for individual workers from 504HealthNet’s community health navigator, and 3) systems strengthening: operational changes, cultural sensitivity training, and quality improvement initiatives to make the regional health care system work better for hospitality workers.
504HealthNet is an association comprised of 23 non-profit and governmental organizations in the Greater New Orleans area. Membership is open to those who provide primary care or behavioral health services in a community setting irrespective of the client’s ability to pay, with a special focus on low-income, under-insured and uninsured populations. Our members independently operate 70 service locations throughout the Greater New Orleans area ranging from comprehensive adult/pediatric primary care and behavioral health to medical mobile units.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the uninsured made up 21% of the population in the greater New Orleans (GNO) region and often faced difficulty getting care. Services for the poor and uninsured were provided through the state-run public hospital, Big Charity, which was shuttered during the storm. Immediately after Katrina, community providers made themselves accessible in any way they could, from providing urgent care in tents and police precincts to administering vaccines outside the casino. 504HealthNet began as a policy voice for these community providers to advocate for funding to develop and build a better health care system than what existed before the storm with a focus on primary care. Today, we have a network of community-based health centers embedded in neighborhoods where people can more easily access care. These primary care sites now provide primary care, preventive and behavioral health services to over 175,000 patients in the GNO region, regardless of ability to pay.