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Heritage seeks Everyday Wellness program enrollees

COEUR d’ALENE— Heritage Health’s new outreach and enrollment director, Dave Valencia, is introducing the community to Everyday Wellness.

“Heritage has created a program called Everyday Wellness,” Valencia said. “It’s a program that’s non-discriminant. There are no economic qualifications — everybody who applies gets accepted.”

The program allows as many as 15 doctor visits per year, has a $50 enrollment fee and a $50 monthly fee.

Valencia said the program has no co-payments and also includes discounted prescriptions with the costs for Heritage Health-prescribed medications being less than most insurance plans.

Valencia found his calling with Heritage Health after his wife's 2013 battle with breast cancer. He said the organization helped his family navigate through the life-altering experience.

Though his family had health insurance, they were not covered for the services his wife needed. Valencia said it left him feeling helpless.

“I don’t want any other family to go through what we did,” Valencia said. “Now I can educate and facilitate families in the community. That’s what it’s all about.”

Another part of Valencia’s job is to help patients find information and enroll in insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Starting Nov. 1 until Dec. 15, during the first section of open enrollment, insurance agents and brokers will be on hand 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at Heritage Health.

They will offer hour-long appointments aimed at enrolling people in an understandable health plan with an agent through yourhealthidaho.org, or have them become members of Everyday Wellness.

Heritage Health has a history of helping in Coeur d’Alene. The now state-of-the-art medical facility found its beginnings with the Dirne Clinic, which helped lower-income people access basic health care.

“When we created Heritage Health, we decided to keep the vision of Lidwina Dirne, but ... we aren’t Dirne Clinic,” Valencia said.

He said a distinction should be made between Heritage and Dirne due to the advancements Heritage now has in place with its facilities, services, and practices.

“In the past we have had two problems: With our phone system and our appointments,” Valencia said. “People couldn’t get an appointment for two or three weeks sometimes. Not true anymore. We have added providers and are adding more as needed.”

Valencia said Heritage sees many seniors who have been turned away from doctors who no longer accept Medicare. He said Heritage Health will continue to accept Medicare patients and would prefer to expand the services they receive.

“We accept all insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, Everyday Wellness and the uninsured,” Valencia said. “Our doors are open and the definition of open is open to everyone.”

Valencia’s position is contingent on a six-month challenge to enroll 1,000 new patients in the Everyday Wellness program. He said he believes in the program and the community’s need for it.

“We have 11,000 uninsured patients at Heritage alone. That’s not counting the rest of the community,” he said. “We want to help everyone with the program. With a healthy community anything is possible.

"I don’t know when neighbors stopped being neighbors but we need to get back to that and it means advocating for each other and that’s what we are here to do.”

Jamie Sedlmayer can be reached at jsedlmayer@cdapress.com

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