New Web Site Targets Medical Problems

April 30, 2007
Merced Sun-Star

Merced, Calif. Merced County announced Thursday the launch of a new Web site that officials say will transform the way county residents find help for a variety of social and medical problems.

The Web site, located at www.merced.networkofcare.org, features a vast array of information and resources for people in five major groups: children under five years of age, the elderly, people with mental or behavioral health issues, people with developmental disabilities, and children under 18 years of age.

County officials say the Web site will enable people in those categories, as well as their family members and caregivers, to easily find information and help, all from their home computers.

"Right now there are a lot of people going without help, just because they don't know where to go," said Ana Pagan, director of the county's human services agency. "When people really begin using this, it will change everything."

Pagan said the Web site, dubbed the Network of Care, is designed to demystify the process of accessing public services, making it less confusing and intimidating.

The Web site's home page lists links for each of the five categories. From there, users can find directories of services that might help them, a searchable information library, and links to other helpful sites.

On the Web site's page for the elderly, for example, users can access a directory of services organized into categories like Alzheimer's disease, senior centers, housing, transportation, end-of-life care and financial assistance. Under each category, the site lists programs, services and phone numbers that users can call to find the right help.

Users can also personalize the site by creating their own accounts. From there users can do things like enter all the medications they're taking to check for drug interactions, create and print cards that summarize their medical or behavioral problems to carry with them in case of an emergency, or find the latest news about a condition or illness from which they suffer.

"(The site) is all about taking away the barriers that prevent people from accessing services," said Pagan. "It's about giving people the information they need to live better lives, or to find help for their family members or loved ones."

The Web site also features information in multiple languages. It's free to all users.