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How Children's Volunteer Health Network Works


The Solution: CVHN
Preventive care is next to impossible for those without health insurance.
Preventive care is next to impossible for those without health insurance.
©iStockphoto.com/imagepointphoto

Children's Volunteer Health Network (CVHN) is a faith-based charitable network of health care providers who volunteer free time and services to uninsured and underinsured kids who live in either Okaloosa County or Walton County. CVHN also sponsors a free prescription card program. It operates on donations and the goodwill of local health care providers, with no government assistance.

Among the health care providers that give their services through CVHN are:

  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Orthodontists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Imaging companies
  • Medical laboratories

CVHN serves school-age children, and the program operates from within the public school system. Teachers, administrators and counselors refer children who may be in need of services to the school nurse. The nurse obtains parental permission and sends a referral form to CVHN.

A case worker at CVHN then matches the child with a participating care provider. These providers volunteer a certain number of free visits or services each month. The case worker schedules the appointment, gets in touch with the family and finds out if the family can take the child to the appointment. If not, the case worker arranges for a prescreened CVHN volunteer to pick up the child at school and drive the child to the doctor or pharmacy and then return the child to school.

After the health care provider sees the child, a report is sent back to the case manager. The case manager, based on this report, can then make follow-up appointments if any are necessary.

But that's not all. Nearly half of CVHN's emergency calls are related to dental care, so CVHN now operates a free-of-charge, mobile dental clinic in the form of a large, specially equipped bus in a program called "Just for Grins."

This program is also run through the public school system and is available to students in grades kindergarten through third who are enrolled in free or subsidized school lunch programs. This is no small pool of candidates -- around 64 percent of Walton County students are enrolled in these lunch programs [source: CVHN]. In addition to raising dental awareness, "Just for Grins" provides preventive care, such as dental exams, cleanings, sealants and fluoride treatments to help reduce and prevent cavities. Here's something to smile about: More than 800 school children in Walton County and Okaloosa County were helped through this program in the 2008-2009 school year.

See the next page for more articles on health volunteering.