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Indiana Health Center Takes on Problems Ranging from Hunger to Unwanted Reptiles 

The snakes were just too much. 

And yet they were only one problem a patient faced after getting out of a hospital. A community health worker from HealthLinc in Valparaiso, Indiana, arranged for professionals to deal with the snakes. And then they helped the patient get legal help. 

As health centers tackle social determinants of health, they often meet a dizzying array of challenges, said Beth Wrobel, the chief executive officer at HealthLinc. 

HealthLinc staff helps patients so they can avoid lapses in care that can make their situation worse. “The big thing is keeping people out of the hospital,” Wrobel said. The services might include transporting them home from the doctor, home health care visits, food aid, or remote patient monitoring. “Our most vulnerable population is our seniors.” 

Last year HealthLinc launched a pilot project using a new computerized system to help assess patient needs and flag situations that require immediate, tailored support. A community health worker contacts a high-risk patient directly. Those who need less help receive an email with a link to, a national non-profit. 

HealthLinc reports that this approach benefits patients and staff alike. The pilot project involved 600 patients. It achieved a 16% increase in patient screenings among 18-39 years old without chronic conditions. Meanwhile, it reduced community health worker workload by 42%. 

Wrobel, who worked as a mechanical engineer before entering the health care field, said she’s happy with the results. “I think like an engineer. I like to think that I’m reengineering health care – with a great team behind me.”