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In South Corvallis, '100% Lincoln' gives big boost in health coverage

A thermometer displays progress as the number of insured kids grows. From left: Lincoln High's Margie Pridgen, Alison Latham and former principal Oscar Moreno. At right: Monica Juarez, Healthy Kids outreach worker and Benton County Health Department staffer.

September 28, 2011 - More kids than ever will have a healthy start to the school year in South Corvallis.

Thanks to an extraordinary effort by parent and community leaders, the percentage of students with health care coverage at Lincoln School has grown from 32 percent to more than 90 percent in just one year.

The key, according to the team at Lincoln, is to go where the kids are, be sensitive to the families' needs, and bring parents, teachers and staff together all focused on the goal.

"Every community knows what is best for the people that live there," said Kelly Volkmann, R.N., Health Navigation Program manager with Benton County.

When children have health coverage, they're more likely to receive the care they need, when they need it. And the program at Lincoln School is just one of the many examples of how Oregon communities are creating positive models of care focused on coverage and prevention.

This push for coverage in South Corvallis began in October 2010, when the Lincoln Parent-Teacher Organization approached school administrators and the Benton County Health Department with the idea for an outreach campaign. They had been hearing concerns from parents about the high number of kids without health insurance. When they surveyed families, they found that only one-third of the children had health care.

They set a goal: 100 percent of the children at Lincoln should have health care coverage. Through partnership with the Healthy Kids program – Oregon's no-cost and low-cost health coverage for uninsured kids and teens – the Benton County Health Department and the school-based health center, the "100% Lincoln" program was launched.

The effort kicked off during fall parent-teacher conferences. Letters went out informing parents of the program, complete with information about Healthy Kids.

Frequent follow-up with parents plus events at the school yielded quick success. The rate of students with insurance jumped to 80 percent by Christmas, and by spring 2011, over 90 percent of Lincoln's kids were insured.

And Lincoln's success hasn't gone unnoticed. This fall, Healthy Beginnings and the Latino Community Association are collaborating with Redmond High School in Central Oregon to launch 100% Redmond.

"So far, 80 families have signed up for consultation for the Healthy Kids program," said Brad Porterfield, association executive director. "We really hope the program catches on this year like it did at Lincoln."