(Not!) Falling Through the Cracks

 Colin Noonan at One Community Health in The Dalles.

Colin Noonan at One Community Health in The Dalles.

College Student Gets Good "Health Grade," Thanks to Quick, Easy Access at One Community Health         

 Easy, quick and affordable access to care is one of the most valued attributes in a health care center today.

Easy, quick and affordable access to care is one of the most valued attributes in a health care center today.

 Erin Grapp, DNP, FNP (left) listens to Colin's challenges around struggling to get well while studying and traveling in Europe.

Erin Grapp, DNP, FNP (left) listens to Colin's challenges around struggling to get well while studying and traveling in Europe.

When Colin Noonan (above) ended up at a doctor’s office in Austria, this rising junior from Gonzaga University was looking for some serious relief. Colin had been traveling about Europe, celebrating a successful end to his study abroad program in Italy. His trip, however, probably could have been better, considering that for about four months, Colin had been plagued by a nagging sinus infection. In Austria, it had clearly developed into a full-blown respiratory infection with a bad cough and fatigue. Fed up with feeling bad, Colin broke away from his sightseeing fun to see an Austrian medical provider. Taking advantage of the travel health insurance, he navigated the foreign health care system, got some antibiotics, and soon experienced some moderate improvement.
 
However, after a couple of weeks, the infection persisted. Upon returning to United States and his hometown of The Dalles, Colin needed the help of a health care professional. Problem was, he was now uninsured—yet not for a lack of trying. Well before his return, Colin’s dad, who happens to be a One Community Health (OCH) board member, had attempted to purchase insurance for Colin on healthcare.gov. In speaking with a customer service representative, he was told his son couldn’t get coverage until after he’d officially returned to the U.S. So, as soon as Colin returned home, Bill went to sign up his son again, only to be told he had to wait weeks for the insurance to kick in. More frustrating, he learned the previous healthcare.gov customer service rep had misinformed him about the eligibility policy—Colin could have actually been enrolled prior to his arrival with the appropriate documentation. Consequently, Colin found himself caught in a gap, uninsured for about six weeks.
 
“We got him that travel insurance for his study abroad because our plan was to make sure we wouldn’t skip a beat—he’d always be covered,” Bill says. “So it was quite terrifying, knowing he was back here in the U.S. and that he didn’t have coverage and that we just had to wait for it to kick in. Meanwhile, he wasn’t well. That’s when we called One Community Health.”
 
That same day, OCH scheduled Colin to see Erin Grapp, DNP, FNP (left). For Colin, the cost was minimal, far more affordable than paying out of pocket without insurance for his non-OCH primary care provider. Upon checking in, Colin filled out some paperwork and was swiftly ushered to the exam room.
 
“I didn’t really know what to expect, but everyone there was very friendly,” he says. “It was really clean, and it was super easy. Everyone served me quickly and did a good job. Erin was really nice—very polite and really good at listening to me. I remember that after she saw me, she was then out in the hallway doing something else, and I asked her a question. She was fine taking a few extra minutes to answer the question I had.”
 
Erin recommended a cough suppressant instead of antibiotics because of the symptoms and the stage of the infection.
 
“At that point, it wasn’t so bad, but I was leaving for my undergrad research job in engineering pretty soon. It’s back in Maine, so it was important to get help now and just get better.”
 
For Bill, knowing OCH was a resource and an option for his son’s health care provided instant peace of mind.
 
“Even though it’s very expensive, our family has always managed to have insurance no matter what,” Bill says. “But in this case, Colin ‘fell through the cracks.’ And so I am grateful for One Community Health and, in particular, for this health care service. For us, it was accessible and a perfect solution for this kind of ‘falling through the cracks.’”