NEW ORLEANS - With Louisiana's Medicaid expansion, a half million more people gained access to physical and mental health exams.
A Medicaid provider has opened a new type of neighborhood clinic, designed to help you stay healthy in many different areas of your life.
Caitlin Sullivan says she has an invisible health condition. At only 28, she looks healthy, but last year she had three surgeries and spent 80 days in the hospital. After a serious infection, it was eight months before she got the diagnosis of an auto immune disease.
"I was still grappling with, I didn't even know what ulcerative colitis was. And I woke up with a colostomy bag," said Sullivan who was sent to surgery three hours after her diagnosis.
Caitlin has worked for non-profits and the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, but when her private insurance ended, she had to depend on Medicaid.
"It was all covered," said Sullivan who has a bucket of medications she has to take. "It's unbelievable to even try and grapple with what my out of pocket costs would have been."
Monday she was in Gentilly to support the opening of a new wellness center. AmeriHealth Caritas is bringing more than doctor exams to Medicaid patients.
"The idea is, instead of providing health care in the four walls of a doctor's office, let's build a center where the people in the community can come to us to do wellness training," said Dr. Rebekah Gee, an OB-GYN and Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Services.
"To be able to be a place where they can take a cooking class, or be part of discussion about how they can improve their health, maybe a financial literacy class," said Paul Tufano, the CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas.
Caitlin says it was her care manager who helped her navigate the health system when she struggled mentally and physically.
"Health care is a gift. And it's really important that everyone has the opportunity to be taken care of like I was," she said.
The center is at 3155 Gentilly Blvd. There will also be line dancing classes. It is open to anyone.
To see if you qualify for this Medicaid program: