Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital will hold open houses on June 6 and 7 to celebrate a MaineHealth program that for 20 years has connected our community’s most vulnerable populations to affordable health insurance and free and low-cost health care and medications.

Established in 2001, Access to Care has helped more than 3,000 people in Knox and Waldo counties navigate the complexities of the health care system to find comprehensive, affordable health care. It has worked with more than 900 residents to complete prescription assistance applications and guided more than 800 people through the Medicaid/ACA application process.

PBMC will host an open house to celebrate Access to Care Monday, June 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. in Conference Room C, located on the ground floor of the Physicians Building on the PBMC campus in Rockport.

WCGH will host an open house Tuesday, June 7, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Classroom, located on the ground floor of the hospital.

The PBMC and WCGH Access to Care team includes Program Coordinator Melissa Moody, case managers Linda Weymouth and Tina Rantala, and Medical Outreach Case Manager Cindy Robbins.
Access to Care is made up six component programs. Perhaps the most well know of these is CarePartners, a partnership between MaineHealth, physicians and hospitals that offers free and affordable health care to uninsured and underinsured adults.

Other programs under the Access to Care umbrella help people apply for free and discounted medications and access the basic necessities of life such as food, transportation, childcare and housing.
“Our programs have significantly evolved and expanded over 20 years to support individuals across our MaineHealth communities,” said Carol Zechman, senior director of Access to Care. “However, our focus has remained the same: Identify and address the underlying web of social, physical and financial needs facing many of the individuals navigating our current health system.”

Patients who could benefit from Access to Care programs are often identified during an Emergency Department visit. They also are referred to the program by primary care providers, especially when faced with an expensive procedure or medication, and when life circumstances — such as food insecurity — challenge the patient’s wellbeing.

“I feel so fortunate to be able to help people through these programs,” said Robbins, the medical outreach case manager at PBMC. “People often say to me, ‘I’ve never asked for help in my life.’ I explain to them that these programs are in place for a reason. It’s just so rewarding to be able to help people who need it.”