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Navigating Tough Times - Medical

Options to receive low cost/no cost medical care in Cherokee County. Also information on prescription medication assistance, Social Security and Veteran's benefits.

There are more people than ever who are struggling to make ends meet in Cherokee County.  Between unemployment, disability, aging, and the like, more and more of our neighbors are just one disaster away from losing everything they’ve worked for all their lives.  Some of you, I am sure, have wondered why I would want to offer the information served up in my past two blogs - resources
for food and clothing.  I can tell you why.  It’s in the Gospel of Matthew: 

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’  
Matthew 25:35-41 NASB


Every day I listen to the debates of those who are politically or philosophically inclined. When I’m at my weakest, I tend to join in the fray.  When I’m at my strongest, I remember the old adage of “Judge not lest you be judged.” The bottom line for those of us who fall into the “have” category is that it is none of our business why someone is facing economic challenges.  None of us were admonished to judge someone’s laziness, sloth, or unwillingness to change. 
Rarely can we know the whole back story. Biblically, we were commanded to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”  Other great spiritual literature admonishes
us to do the same, although in slightly different words.  Generosity is a spiritual principle that always bears rewards. 

Consequently, as I see suffering all around me, and in families who have (until recently) been incredibly self-sufficient, I am reminded that those of us with blessings might really be able to help turn around this economy if we would only do as we say we want to do.  If we take personal responsibility for helping our neighbors, rather than relying on federal or state governments to do so, we are a part of the solution rather than part of the problem.  Who knows what the far-reaching ramifications might be?  And I’m not just speaking of earthly rewards, if you get my drift.

As I listen, and I do listen a LOT, the three biggest hurdles for most people who are trying to climb out of despair are food, clothing and medical resources. 
The first two blogs I’ve written were about food and clothing.  This week, I’m going to focus on medical resources. 

The biggest difference in the last two blogs and this one is that is it not easy to “donate” to help someone find medical resources.  It becomes truly a personal gift.  Perhaps, if you are blessed, you could set up a fund at your worship center for those who need help with doctor’s charges or medicines with gift cards or donations. If you’re a member of a social organization, you could easily do the
same.  The hardest part is determining need and applying the funds as broadly as possible to help those who are in dire straits.  The easiest way I know to
do this is to ASK FOR HELP from someone who knows something about what these patients face.  Talk to a social worker at one of the local hospitals.  Talk with large retail organizations such as Kroger or Publix or Walmart about gift
certificates which are restricted to use for pharmaceuticals only.  Get suggestions from other organizations (Lions Club comes immediately to mind) who have been doing this for years.  Whatever you decide, let your spirit be your final guide.  Despite all reporting to the contrary, MOST people who ask for help actually want to use the funds donated for the purpose intended.  You will intuitively know, in most cases, that the need is real. 

Here are some medical resources available to those living in Cherokee County, and this is not an all-inclusive list:

Cherokee County Health Department:  The Cherokee County Health
Department offers vital services to residents of the county, ranging from
essential nursing services such as vaccines and general health screenings to
pre-natal and peri-natal care, cancer screenings, blood tests and even dental
services.  These services are offered to underinsured/uninsured patients at varying costs.  The Health Department will also assist those who qualify for Medicaid, WIC and other programs to support health and wellness, especially in children.  Contact numbers:  Canton   770-345-7371   Woodstock   770-928-0133    Website:  http://www.nghd.org/Cherokee-County-Health-Department/cherokeeservices.html

Children’s Healthcare 24-hour Advice Line:  Exactly as the name implies, this number gives access to 24-hour professional advice regarding children and their
healthcare needs.  Contact number:  404-250-KIDS

Georgia Highlands Medical Services:  Georgia Highlands Medical Services is a non-profit Community Health Center (CHC) serving the medical needs of North Georgia since 1979. The offices of Georgia Highlands Medical Services are staffed by dedicated Board Certified Physicians, Physician's Assistants and Family Nurse Practitioners who practice general medicine. Medical providers are assisted by licensed nurses and certified medical assistants.  Services cover the entire spectrum of modern medicine. Offices are open to the general public, adults and children, regardless of residence or income.  Contact numbers:  Canton office - 678-807-1050  Cumming office - 770-887-1668  Website:  http://www.georgiahighlandsmedical.org/

Highland Rivers Mental Health:  Adult Mental Health Outpatient
Service at Highland Rivers is dedicated to helping consumers through age
appropriate, culturally sensitive education, treatment and habilitation that
respect dignity and individuality. Success is attained through quick response
and efficiency in meeting the needs of consumers and their families and through
the participation of consumers and families in planning and carrying out
individual treatment plans.  Adult Mental Health Outpatient Service is designed to meet the needs of the individual as thoroughly as possible so consumers can remain in their community. When the needs of consumers are greater than can be met in the outpatient setting, appropriate referrals are made.  Intake number1-800-923-2305 (establishes eligibility)   Contact number:  (770) 704-1600    Website:  http://www.highlandrivers.org/programs/index.cfm?template=progs_outpatient_adult

HOPE Center: The HOPE Center offers counseling and medical testing for unplanned pregnancies and reviews all options available to the clients.  Within a confidential environment where the standard of service is “no pressure, just caring advice,” individuals or couples are offered facts and options. 
Contact number:  770-924-0864    Website:  http://www.hopectr.com/home/tabid/1416/Default.aspx 

Lions Club:  Lions are an international network of 1.3 million men and women in 205 countries and geographic areas who work together to answer the needs that challenge communities around the world. They share a common spirit.  Since
the inception in 1917, they have been united in a single cause: helping those less fortunate. They tackle the tough problems like blindness and drug abuse as well as diabetes awareness…and finding help and training for the deaf, disabled, underprivileged and the elderly. In fact, whatever the community needs to make life better, they are there to help.   Contact numbers:  WoodstockWoodstockLionsClub@gmail.com or (770) 906-2958   Website:  http://www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/woodstockga/index.php   Canton:    678-224-7878   Website: http://www.lionsofcanton.org/

Medicaid/PeachCare for Kids:  You can get information on these programs,
both supported through state funding, from the Department of Family and
Children’s Services (DFCS).  Contact number:  770-720-3610  Website:  http://dch.georgia.gov/00/channel_title/0,2094,31446711_31944826,00.html

Partnership for Prescription Assistance:  The Partnership for Prescription Assistance helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get the medicines they need through the program that is right for them. Many will get their medications free or nearly free.  The Partnership for Prescription Assistance
will help you find the program that’s right for you, free of charge.
 Contact information:  1-888-477-2669   Website: http://www.pparx.org/ 

Retail Programs: There are too many to actually list here, but a little research will help you go a long way toward reducing prescription costs.  Most doctors/medical providers will provide prescriptions for generic medications whenever possible.  Kroger, Publix and Walmart all have prescription programs offering some of the most-prescribed medications for as little as $4.00 for generics.  Publix, in addition, offers certain antibiotics, diabetic and other life-saving medications for FREE.  Check with your local store pharmacies to see what programs are available to you.  In addition, bulk discount stores such as B.J.’s and Sam’s do not usually require paid membership to fill prescriptions there, and the savings can be substantial.  Check your local store for details.  

As stated earlier, this is not a comprehensive list, but it should enable to reader to find a starting point.  It’s difficult enough to be looking for employment of any kind without food, proper clothing or medical care.  The resources outlined in this article, coupled with those in the last two, might enable you to feel and look well
enough to seek employment or education of some kind.  The final in this series will focus on how and where you can find education and employment resources at limited or no cost. 

If education or work is not an option, then perhaps you might consider contacting the Social Security Administration to determine eligibility and/or apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).  Any SSA representative will help you determine which you are eligible for.  Their number is 1-800-772-1213 and their website is http://www.ssa.gov/

If you are a veteran, you can contact your local Veteran’s Administration for service. Their website is http://www.va.gov/ and you can click on the
link for locations, finding the one closest to you. 

Whatever your position, as one in need or one who is blessed, I hope this information will encourage you to find a way to your neighbor.  In doing so, you may just find you’ve blessed yourself. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Susan Thompson June 02, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Very thorough & easy to read. Great article!
Marjorie Perry June 02, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Thoughtful, inspiring AND very informative. Great information. My diagnosis of MS has been a huge financial burden on my family. I haven't used this yet but someone just told my about www.needymeds.com where you can request meds for discounted prices (maybe even free).
Michael Daube June 02, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Amazing how you have made important information available in comprehensive format and derived from your own life experiences as well as others! It is remarkable how you have also managed to serve others while recovering from surgery. Thanks for sharing your newest accomplishment.
john trent June 02, 2012 at 11:08 PM
This is a well thought out piece that gives hope to those in need and challenges us all to do more for their fellow man.We are indeed"blessed in order to bless others...".Thanks for the caring and assistance given to those who fall between the cracks every day and don't know where to turn... God Bless!
Ann Jahl June 05, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Great list of resources. Thank you.

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