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A Gift For Care Givers Doctors Who Donated Time, Services To Uninsured Get A Dozen Roses In Return

Jeanne Bock found out that delivering flowers is a lot more fun than her usual job - making sure sick people find health care even when they can’t afford it.

The Panhandle Health District nurse spent Friday morning delivering flowers to the people who make her job easier.

Twenty-five doctors, dentists, medical laboratories and pharmacies in Coeur d’Alene each got a dozen roses, delivered by Bock, for participating in the Helping Hands Medical Access program. The program’s vouchers give donated health care to those who can’t afford it, don’t qualify for Medicaid and do not have health insurance.

A patient’s income must be below 150 percent of the poverty level to qualify.

“There’s always a need in this community,” said Bock, as she walked down the hallways of medical buildings. She greeted receptionists and doctors with flowers and a certificate.

Bock got a hug from Dr. Terence Neff, a pediatrician who helped start the program for people who need to see a doctor immediately, but don’t require emergency room care.

“We deal with children here, and it became apparent that there was a great need in the community,” Neff said. “It was so well accepted that we rapidly expanded to the adult population. The number of people helped by this is tremendous.”

When patients come to Panhandle Health District with an acute health problem, they’re referred to Lake City Health Care, a free clinic open Tuesdays and Thursdays. On other days, nurses can give them vouchers for a free doctor visit, medication or X-ray services.

Typical problems are lingering cold or flu symptoms, toothaches and earaches.

Doctors feel more comfortable with donating their time, said Bock, because patients are screened by a nurse. The voucher system also lets providers decide how many visits or services they would like to give per month or per year.

“Before (the program) it was hit or miss, mostly miss,” said Neff, one of many doctors who donate services through a variety of programs. In Helping Hands, PHD nurses hand out vouchers, make the appointments and make sure patients show up.

Twenty-five of the most generous donors were recognized Friday, but more are needed, especially dentists, Bock said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo