Araceli No Longer Misses Work to Get the Help She Needs to Access Health Benefits

image of women filling forms ECHOS
image of women filling forms ECHOS

Last year, when Araceli visited ECHOS, a Texas nonprofit, for help renewing her subsidized health-insurance benefits, the process took hours and hours, causing her to arrive late to her job as an in-home caregiver. This year, she says, she was in and out of ECHOS, with all her business taken care of, in much shorter time.

“I was able to work my full eight hours,” Araceli, who speaks Spanish, says through a translator. “It was easier to do everything, so I didn’t have to lose those work hours.”

ECHOS, which provides healthcare-application assistance and a variety of medical and human services to low-income residents, immigrants, and refugees, had taken measures to speed up its service delivery in response to a Listen4Good survey that revealed clients were deeply frustrated by the waits. The group extended business hours; streamlined its registration process, including by dropping some paper forms; and even rearranged furniture to better accommodate the flow of visitors.

“The truth is we could be open until midnight every day and still not get to everyone who walks through our doors,” says Cathy Moore, executive director of ECHOS. “The need is that great.” But, she says, she is pleased with the progress the organization has made, and is grateful that the survey spurred improvements.

“We knew there was a problem with wait times,” she says. “What we weren’t thinking about until we heard from our clients was how to be proactive about solving the problem.”

Angie Ochoa, a client navigator who has volunteered and worked at ECHOS for more than five years, says the number of clients she is able to meet with during a typical morning has nearly doubled.

“We get to help more people,” she says, “and they get the help they need without having to lose as much valuable time with taking care of their kids or getting to their jobs.”