Published Wed, Feb 1, 2012 11:25 am Dateline
Medical costs can often be a burden to families, resulting in the neglect of basic health needs.
The Childhood Immunization Program (CHIP) aims to eliminate that financial burden and provide health care to the Southeastern Ohio community.
The Childhood Immunization Program, which began in 1994, offers people in Southeastern Ohio immunizations to protect against diseases.
Residents of 21 surrounding counties can to obtain free or low-cost immunizations for their children or themselves. Services are offered regardless of income or insurance status, and the main goal of the program is prevention.
“This isn’t for sick children, it’s to prevent them from getting sick,” says CHIP Nurse Coordinator Diana Kasler. “I believe that most of the physicians that we provide immunizations for, respect our program and require it for most of their practices.”
Located on the ground floor of Parks Hall on the campus of Ohio University, the clinic sees about 20 people per day. Kasler says even more patients visit around back-to-school time and flu season in the winter months.
The program credits the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Ohio Department of Health, which allows them to provide medical care free of charge.
While the CHIP staff says they strongly believe in the importance of immunization, they also realize the importance of keeping parents informed and letting them make the final call.
“We always tell parents the risk of the disease and the benefits of receiving a vaccination, but we also tell them the side effects and inform them of all the components so they feel well-informed,” says nurse Kim McCunn. “In the end, it is the parents who have to make the final decision.”
As CHIP grew, nurses say it became apparent there were other unmet health needs in the area. So, in early 1996, Community Health Programs (CHP) was formed, which added a second mobile unit to the program.
Like CHIP, CHP provides free or low-cost health care services to the residents of the area. Services are available to the public every Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Appointments are not required.