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WIC Field Note

Co-locating WIC and Healthcare

By TrueCare WIC Program, San Diego CA

TrueCare is an FQHC Health Center that provides comprehensive healthcare in San Diego and  Riverside Counties in California, including prenatal and pediatric healthcare as well as WIC services.  TrueCare providers and WIC staff engage in many collaborative processes to improve health outcomes and streamline services for their shared populations. This includes:

  • TrueCare gives WIC staff access to EPIC, their electronic medical record system, to make medical, anthropometric or other information needed to complete WIC certification available for participants that are TrueCare patients.
  • TrueCare WIC registered dietitians (RD) and lactation consultants (IBCLC) have opportunities to work in the health center providing medical nutrition therapy in Pediatrics, Women’s Health (OB), Adult Medicine and Behavioral Health as well as lactation services to prenatal and postpartum women and their infants. Staff hours worked in the health center are paid for by TrueCare.
  • A full-time (40/hr/wk) WIC Coordinator (WC) is housed in TrueCare’s San Marcos Health Center. This position was established as part of a California WIC program grant to improve child retention, recruitment, and re-engagement in a busy pediatric office. It was so successful that the position was made permanent when the grant ended and it was expanded to include perinatal patients as well as pediatric. Additionally, an office was set up for the WC and it is located between Pediatrics and Woman’s Health (OB) Services. This model will likely be duplicated in other health center sites.

The WC performs two important roles:

  1. In Pediatrics, she engages with parents and caregivers of children aged 0-4 during their appointment with their provider. The WC “researches the children with pediatric appointments in the WIC database,” to understand their WIC participation: active, previously active, never on WIC, etc. Based on her research, the WC flags patients she needs to see that day and adds them to her “clinic schedule.” This ensures that the parent or caregiver sees the WC before they leave the health center. The WC engages with the parent or caregiver in an attempt to either retain, recruit or re-engage them with WIC and to help them overcome any barriers to receiving their WIC benefits. The WC also works closely with the Lactation Specialists in Pediatrics to enroll newborns in WIC at their first healthcare appointment. The WC utilizes counseling notes and information in the medical record, including the infant feeding assessment, to streamline the WIC enrollment.
  2. In Women’s Health (OB) Services, the WC works closely with the health center Prenatal and MediCal (Medicaid) Coordinators to get referrals of new prenatal patients. Additionally, she works with the clinic Registered Dietitian, and utilizes counseling notes and information in the medical records to streamline the WIC enrollment and for documenting the nutrition education contacts.

By coordinating with the Pediatric and Women’s Health Services, the WC saves time for the participant/parent and WIC staff and also reduces redundancy in collecting information and providing education. The WC is currently serving a caseload of 725 participants in this co-located site. About 27% of the participants are infants, 40% children, 14% pregnant and 19% are postpartum. The WC provides between 15-20 enrollment, recertification or nutrition education contacts per day.

For more information, contact Mary Sammer, MS, RD.  Mary.sammer@truecare.org

Date Added
June 9, 2021