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Nonprofit Sendero plans home visits to coordinate care, save money

Sendero Health Plans is offering aid to families for whom navigating health care can be a maze. It launched a pilot program this month to send health care coordinators into the homes of 100 Austin-area children it covers at Carousel Pediatrics.

At the direction of Carousel physicians, bilingual community health workers will visit selected families to coordinate care between doctors’ offices and patients at no cost to participants, according to officials with Sendero, a nonprofit that Central Health created to provide coverage to low-income people. Some of the children have chronic conditions, and the service is seen as way to keep them healthier and out of the emergency room.

“We see the potential that this program can benefit our members, improve health outcomes and save everyone money,” Sendero CEO Wes Durkalski said in a statement.

Sendero will pay the nonprofit Latino HealthCare Forum to provide the community health workers and advisers, said Linda Burton, Sendero’s director of membership and marketing. They will serve as liaisons between patients and caregivers, said Frank Rodriguez, a former member of the Central Health board and the forum’s executive director.

Sendero, which receives funds from Central Health, declined to discuss program costs, saying that information is proprietary.

Rodriguez said a budget is still being devised but estimated that the cost of 4½ “full-time equivalent” workers from his nonprofit would be less than $35,000 over a three-to-four-month period.

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