The Ottauquechee Health Foundation has been a key partner for the local community care coordinator ever since the position was established in 2011. That partnership has been especially important during the pandemic, and Carla Kamel, the current community care coordinator, said OHF’s role is crucial.
Kamel is part of Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center’s community health team. In her role, she helps area residents who need support to manage ongoing health care or to deal with issues related to aging. The focus is improving the quality of life and independence of patients, and it includes a lot of advocacy, as well as setting goals geared toward positive health outcomes.
In that work, inter-agency care management is essential, and OHF plays a big role in supplying grants and other assistance for patients.
“We’d be lost without them,” Kamel said of OHF.
The grants through OHF pay for crucial services such as dental work, eyeglasses, mental health or caregiver support, just to name a few examples. OHF also coordinates help for food insecurity, such as providing fresh food through Veggie Van Go. An important need during the winter is warm clothes which are donated.
“Just this morning, a member of our community health team was saying they were looking for hats and mittens for a child,” Kamel said recently. After a phone call to OHF grants coordinator Beth Robinson, that need was soon met. OHF recently completed its Share the Warmth event, which collected almost 400 knitted and crocheted hats, mittens, and scarves for distribution in the towns it serves and beyond.
“They’re so creative, and I think it’s just that focus on health care and improving people’s lives,” Kamel said.
A major part of the job is being out in the community to visit patients. Though the pandemic has limited that, Kamel is still able to do porch visits at distance.
“People appreciate it, particularly seniors, with the isolation,” she noted.
Kamel very much enjoys that part of the work. “My philosophy has always been, care management should be out with the community,” she said.
Kamel, who has been working in case management for well over 20 years, is based at the Ottauquechee Health Center in Woodstock.