‘Quick’ WIC

Published 8:21 am Thursday, August 28, 2014

JACKSON – Faster and easier, with fewer questions…those are the attributes of a new system that handles WIC, a special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children.

The North Carolina Crossroads WIC System is a model information system that is replacing the 30-year-old NC WIC Automated Data Processing (ADP) System. North Carolina was chosen by the Federal Government (WIC is administered by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food & Nutrition Service) to lead a four-state consortium for the Crossroads program. Alabama, Virginia and West Virginia are joining North Carolina to manage all facets of WIC operations, including client services and vendor management.

In North Carolina, Northampton County was among the initial wave of local government entities to rollout the new system.

“It’s great…like anything else there are challenges learning a new system, but we’ve found it to be much easier for us to use and it’s quicker and more convenient for our WIC clients,” said Shelia Person, WIC Director for the Northampton County Health Department.

Person added that the new system replaces one that was, “paperwork heavy.”

“We’re no longer using paper records; the existing paperwork has been scanned into digital files and added to Crossroads system,” she said. “There’s even an electronic pad that accepts a digital signature of each client.”

Person said the new program also allows the WIC staff at the Northampton Health Department to schedule client appointments by computer. On the other end, the digital program allows the clients to pick up their nutritional items in a quicker manner.

The Northampton WIC staff attended a four-day training session in Raleigh late last month to learn the new program, which was rolled out in the county on July 28. The state was responsible for the digital conversion of all of Northampton’s old paper files prior to the rollout.

Hertford County’s rollout is scheduled for the week of Oct. 6. Bertie and Gates will see their rollout the week of Oct. 13 as part of the Albemarle Regional Health Services group.

According to information provided by the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services, Crossroads promises to dramatically reduce the time spent by WIC clients for the initial certification process (now at 1-4 hours); the nutrition and education visit (1 hour); and subsequent certification (1-3 hours).

The new program will replace a paper-based system that used approximately 762,000 pages of paper annually (based on three pages per the total number of WIC applicants – 254,000). It also speeds up the vendor application/authorization process, which currently takes seven business days per vendor and roughly 30,000 pages of paper annually.

Crossroads uses modern web (HTML/HTTP) technology, standard WIC data elements, and complies with Federal policy and regulations.

WIC provides Federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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