It’s a website. But describing Douglas County Communities’ Network of Care (NOC) as just a website is like calling a Lamborghini just a car.
The mission of the NOC is to advocate for the necessities of our community’s most vulnerable populations using technology to illuminate the pathway between serving organizations and individuals with needs. The goal is enhanced wellness of individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities through connectivity with existing resources.
I have been humbled by the compassion and giving I have found in this blue-collar county. Organizations large and small, public, private, religious, fraternal, and secular have identified needs and reached out with the resources they have. Organizations and foundations have been incredibly gracious with financial support. Government organizations function according to their mandates and many individuals volunteer time.
However, those most vulnerable are often unaware of who or how to contact the help they need. The system can appear complex, opaque, and impersonal. And there is a lack of communication between helping agencies. Help is only meaningful when it is accessible.
At the top of the NOC home page is a space bar with this question: what are you looking for?
Type in your concern. Mental health, foster kids, respite care, type 1 diabetes, dementia support, housing and shelter, food pantry, transportation, disability, senior services, nursing homes, assisted living, etc. You are immediately linked with resources within Douglas County.
There is an internal referral module which can be used, either by agencies or individuals. You choose the category of need and submit. If you wish a NOC navigator to help, that is available. A closed loop function exists to ensure that referrals are tracked until contact is made and services are fulfilled. If one agency cannot fully meet the need, the user may be referred to an agency that can.
This webspace offers one location, where accurate, up to date information guides to all entities offering services to our county are compiled, along with tools provided to allow communication and tracking, all centering on that person’s need.
There is more: state and county health data, a library with trusted information regarding any health topic, legislative news and initiatives which allow citizens to lobby their representatives, and even the ability to create a confidential, secure, personal health record. Total connectivity at one site.
Most nonprofit organizations in Douglas County perform regular Community Needs Assessments at substantial costs. Have you seen one? Does anybody look at them? What changes?
We are one community. Why do we need 50 different community needs assessments? How do we work together if our priorities are not aligned? In 2021, the NOC coordinated a community needs assessment across Douglas County where our residents identified what was most important to them. This report is also on the website. It serves as a powerful voice to our state legislatures when it says, "this is what our county needs. And we're working on it. This is how you can help us."
The potential power behind this site is immense. But it requires two actions. The first is for every organization whose mission is to provide services to be represented on the site. The second is for the public to utilize it. Potential becomes reality when problems are solved, and citizen’s needs are met.
Douglas County Communities’ Network of Care is created, financed, and maintained by its founders who are Douglas Educational Service District, The Cow Creek Tribe Health Clinic, Evergreen Family Medicine, Mercy Foundation and Mercy Medical Center, and Umpqua Health Alliance. But we don’t own it. This tool belongs to our community.
There is no expense to organizations to be represented on this website. We only require they keep their own information up to date and respond to the referrals received. And there is no charge to users.
I am convinced there is enough money spent in this country to provide good health care for our citizens. The answer is not more funding, but improved coordination and utility of existing resources to diminish inefficiency and waste.
People speak of the need of a single payer model. In fact, what I believe is needed is a single delivery system. A locally coordinated, communicating single system to organize helpers with those who need help would avoid the chaos and duplication inherent in our current structure. Systems become personal.
A popular term you will hear bantered about is "social determinates of health." No one doubts their significance. But while everybody can agree on and talk at length to the problem, I have seen precious few ideas toward pragmatics answers. This is one.
Please check out this resource:
Tim Powell MD