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Access To Health

Reprinted from PN January 2017

No matter where health care is offered, there are rules to make sure people with disabilities have the access they need to stay well

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If you have a spinal-cord injury or disease (SCI/D) or help someone who does, there’s no secret about the amount of specialized medical care and multiple health professionals required to stay in good condition. 

Among the health professionals needed are a SCI/D specialist to treat the primary condition. However, these specialists usually don’t offer the services of a primary care provider (PCP) who renders aid that everyone needs, such as treatment of common sicknesses and preventive health care.


Veterans with SCI/D can receive care from a SCI/D specialist and PCP under one roof through the Department of Veterans Affairs medical system. However, if you’re not a veteran, you’ll probably need to go to multiple locations and/or medical professionals for your health care.

Going to several places can sometimes mean problems, including physical barriers that make taking good care of yourself tough.

Coordination Of Care

One problem is that a PCP needs to consider issues related to SCI/D when providing care, but the PCP often lacks knowledge about secondary conditions.

Last year, the University of Alabama-Birmingham Spinal Cord Injury Model System (UAB-SCIMS) launched a website for PCPs in an effort to help solve this problem by providing them information on secondary conditions that they can consider when providing care.

A lack of transportation is also a problem for many, especially in areas with limited public transportation. It’s an ongoing problem with no easy solution.

Physical barriers remain troublesome, too. Some offices aren’t fully accessible or lack an accessible exam table. Transferring can be a problem. Specialized screening equipment is often not accessible.

For example, women who use a wheelchair are often unable to get breast and cervical cancer screenings because examination tables aren’t height-adjustable.

You probably know the law requires equal access. Sadly, however, you likely also know that the “law” and the “real world” are often two different things. You know the real world, but do you know what “equal access” to health care means?


 

To read more about this, order the January 2017 PN, Click Here.
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