Statewide program helps children with special healthcare needs

Press Staff Writer

        The Children with Medical Handicaps (CMH) program is a health care program that can help ease the burden of medical costs for children with special healthcare needs.
        Offered by the Ohio Department of Health, the program links eligible families to a network of quality providers and helps them obtain payments for necessary services for their child.
        Some of the eligible conditions covered by the program include AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cleft lip/palate, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, scoliosis, hemophilia, hearing loss, juvenile arthritis, metabolic disorders, severe vision disorders, sickle cell disease, spina bifida, congenital heart disease and chronic lung disease.
        Eligible children must be permanent residents of Ohio under the care of a CMH-approved doctor (M.D. or D.O.).
        CMH can help children with special healthcare needs in three ways.
        • Diagnostic Program: Children can receive services for up to nine months from CMH-approved providers to rule out or diagnose a special health care need or establish a plan of treatment.
        • Treatment Program: Children can receive services from CMH-approved providers for one year for treatment of an eligible condition. If the child remains eligible, services may be renewed each year until age 22, and eligibility will increase to age 23, effective July 1, 2022.
        CMH case managers facilitate optimal utilization of primary insurance coverage and CMH benefits for approved services. Both medical and financial eligibility are required for the treatment program.
        • Service Coordination Program: This program helps families locate and coordinate services. This is a limited program available to children with specific conditions who are seen by a team of providers at hospitals approved by CMH for service coordination.
        Jackie Mears, Public Health Nurse, oversees the CMH program at Wood County Health Department, replacing Darlene Beggs, who recently retired after managing the program for 17 years. Mears began her public health career as a nurse in the Wood County Community Health Center and worked with Beggs as a public health nurse in the CMH and   Help Me Grow programs before serving as Director of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
        “Darlene Beggs is known around the health department and in the community for her passion for helping children with special healthcare needs,” said Amy Jones, Deputy Health Commissioner and Director of Nursing at Wood County Health Department. “She has helped hundreds of children through the Wood County CMH program. While Darlene will be missed, we are fortunate to have Jackie again leading the program and know the families CMH supports are in capable hands.”
        For more information about the CMH program or to get a referral to start the enrollment process, contact Jackie Mears at Wood County Health Department at 419-352-8402.
        The Wood County Health Department’s Community Health Center provides comprehensive medical services for men, women and children. All patients are welcome, including uninsured or underinsured clients, regardless of their ability to pay. Most third-party insurances are accepted. For more information, visit


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