WICHITA COUNTY, TX (KAUZ) - When Wichita County Precinct 1 Commissioner Mark Beauchamp took office, one of the first things he noticed was how much money the county was spending on low-income healthcare and how many people were stuck in the program.
After months of work, he's happy with the progress that's been made, but more work remains.
"The thing we had to do first was get our processes and procedures in place," he said. "Now we're beginning to be able to be in a position to reach out to our community partners that much more."
In 2016 Wichita County spent $760,000 on low-income healthcare and had 819 low-income healthcare clients. Fast forward to a year later and the number is down to 540.
"We implemented many things that were successful in other counties to help us better serve our clients to make sure that we are serving the public that we need to serve," Commissioner Beauchamp said.
"By improving their health they are able to then maybe go back to work," Laci Edwards with the Wichita Falls/Wichita County Public Health District said. "Or we realize there are other needs that could be met through other entities such as the housing authority. So they don't need these other programs anymore."
Commissioner Beauchamp noticed the problem and got community partners like the Public Health District and Community Health Care Center on board, along with many others.
"I'm already very proud and pleased with the success that we've had so far," Commissioner Beauchamp said. "Particularly in the implementation of the new processes and procedures that we have in place."
Edwards said these changes are exciting, but more work needs to be done.
"We talk about our client needs, what we're seeing, and how we can improve their care," Edwards said. "Because that's what it's really about, improving their care."
"It's a multi-headed beast and we're not there yet," Commissioner Beauchamp said. "Just continuing down a road one step at a time."
Commissioner Beauchamp said the next step is to address how many opioid drugs are being prescribed to low-income healthcare clients in Wichita County. He believes the county can cut the cost by 40 percent, saving thousands of taxpayer dollars.
Edwards said groups like Helen Farabee, the YMCA, and Red Door are helping with the initiative, and you can too. To contribute to their efforts, you can give the Wichita Falls/Wichita Co. Health Department (940)-761-7800 or Commissioner Beauchamp (940)-766-8106 a call