Last updated: June 12. 2014 4:24PM - 567 Views
By - cberendt@civitasmedia.com

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A new system is being rolled out in Sampson County that aims to make North Carolina’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) more efficient for recipients by turning a paper-based system into an electronic system.

And that is expected to be just part of the overall benefit.

The system is called Crossroads, whose implementation will enforce federal requirements to ensure accountability and automate a system of documenting client services. That will mean reduction in errors and paperwork, as well as more time efficiency, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services officials said.

The WIC office serves about 2,000 clients in Sampson County per month.

Sampson County health director Wanda Robinson said Crossroads, the electronic health record for the WIC office, is still a work in progress.

“The transition started the second week in May in which the staff began training, and then rollout of the system (occurred) on May 27,” Robinson stated. “We had to cut our appointments during the first week of rollout, but is back up to full schedule next week. The transition has been slow but has gone well.”

The N.C. Crossroads WIC Management Information System, which is 100 percent federally funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services, is a model information system that is replacing the 30-year-old N.C. WIC Automated Data Processing (ADP) System. North Carolina was selected by the federal government to be the lead state of a four-state consortium that also includes Alabama, Virginia and West Virginia to develop the new WIC MIS.

Crossroads is referred to as a State Agency Model, which means that it is intended to be a model system transferable to other states once completed.

“Sampson County is one of eight counties in North Carolina to launch this system first (on May 27),” said Kirsti Clifford, press assistant in the N.C. DHHS Office of Communications. “We’ve received feedback from the county that the system is working well so far.”

Once implemented, Crossroads will support all facets of state and local agency WIC operations, including: clinic operations; food benefit vouchers; issuance and reconciliation; appointment scheduling; vendor management; caseload management; and federal reporting. Benefits for recipients include easier scheduling, quicker food instrument pick-up, fewer questions at check-in, quicker in-state transfers and food packages that meet family needs, Clifford noted.

The eligibility for WIC is financial and medical.

“So once clients are determined to be eligible, nutritional counseling is provided and food vouchers are distributed,” Robinson pointed out. “The system has been streamlined to pull in Medicaid eligibility and allow staff to see clients and provide services in a timely manner once it is fully implemented.”

While the process has been a slow one in Sampson, with data entry being a time-consuming task, it is ultimately anticipated to be a quicker system once the kinks are worked out.

“We do ask clients to be patient as we move to the new system,” Robinson noted.

For more information, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/crossroads or call the Sampson County Health Department at 910-592-1131.

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.

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