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News Release

Top Areas of Concern for High Risk Populations During Coronavirus Crisis Identified through Medica Outreach Program

Minneapolis — Findings show that the biggest areas of need among people at highest risk for complications from the coronavirus include community and mental health resources to address increased anxiety, medication issues and food concerns. Those findings are based on information gleaned through Medica's coronavirus outreach program designed to reach its highest-risk members. The program was launched within days of the declaration of a national public health emergency.

Under the program, Medica representatives talked via telephone with more than 18,000 of its highest-risk members — individuals 60 years and older and those who have multiple chronic conditions — to identify their concerns in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and provide them with resources to help them cope.

Concerns expressed by members fell into three broad categories including social determinants of health, mental health and medical symptoms. Medication and food concerns were the top worry within the social determinants of health category, while increased anxiety and depression were top concerns in the mental health category. Worry over exposure to people who tested positive for COVID-19 was the leading concern within the medical symptoms category, followed by shortness of breath, cough, fever and aches.

To help address these concerns, Medica employees directed members to more than 220 community and mental health resources. Examples of those resources include Medica's crisis line, food and grocery delivery services, financial and prescription assistance organizations and nurse lines for symptom management. "Our team was seeking to assess mental health stressors and things like pharmacy access and food needs and how we could help our members address them," said John Piatkowski, M.D., Senior Medical Director at Medica. "In addition to helping meet those needs, we found we also were meeting social needs. Some people said, 'You're the first person I've talked to in three weeks.' I am gratified that we are able to help in so many ways."

Medica now is in the planning stages of a second wave of outreach to members. In addition to assessing the community and medical resource needs of Medica members, there will be a focus on reminding people to schedule their annual wellness visits, as well as their preventative procedures such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Outreach will also focus on well child visits including childhood immunizations.

"As we learn more about how this pandemic is changing health care behaviors and needs we are finding more ways we can be of assistance to our member that is beneficial to their long-term health," Piatkowski said.