Don’t let Megan Riddell’s soft voice and gentle manner fool you. She’s bold, and she’s here to help.
Megan has been guiding people to the resources they need for optimal health since 2012. As a Rocky Mountain Health Plans care coordinator serving members in the Four Corners area of Colorado, she isn’t shy about letting people know what she’s all about.
She and her colleague, Aaron Hankins, meet members of Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) where they are to discuss barriers to health such as access to providers, affordable housing, adequate food and safety. They work with members to help them craft solutions.
Each week, they meet members in a local homeless shelter (The Bridge), a day labor gathering site in a local church and at the Workforce Center in Cortez. The sites weren’t designed with a space to meet and talk to members, so Megan has to make her presence known and invite members to the conversation.
“I walk in and usually make an announcement that if you need Medicaid services or if you have any questions and want to talk to me, I’m here to help you,” she says.
The work is part education, part problem solving and part navigation. Megan begins the day with telephone calls to Health First Colorado members who recently visited the emergency room or were discharged from the hospital to assess their needs and ensure they have access to followup appointments, equipment and services. She visits some members in their homes, or meets them at a local library to help them apply for services. “That may be helping them find a primary care provider, apply for housing assistance or get dental or vision care,” she says. “Every day is a little different.”
The region is largely rural, and affordable housing is scarce. “That’s the one area we would like to be able to help people more with,” Megan says. “We can educate people about different housing options, help them apply and get them on a waiting list, but usually we can’t find them housing. That’s the biggest barrier we have.” Access to mental health providers is also a barrier at times as there’s no inpatient treatment facility in the area.
Megan works with members to educate and connect them to community resources. “We often help them find doctors and assist them with getting benefits through Health First Colorado, SNAP and WIC.” She sets up provider appointments for both physical and mental health needs, and can navigate the red tape around getting a special prescription filled.
“We spend a lot of time educating them about these resources, because it helps our community when we help the people in it be successful,” she says.