Much of what influences health happens outside the medical care system, but issues such as whether a patient has enough to eat, a safe place to live, or reliable transportation are not typically recorded in medical records or addressed during medical visits. Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury will pilot ways to better identify and address patients’ needs with a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated, eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities requires recognizing and addressing the many issues that influence health. This approach has the potential to significantly improve the hospital’s ability to better serve patients,” said Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “We are pleased to support Saint Mary’s Hospital in piloting this system and in advancing its commitment to assuring that everyone can be as healthy as possible.”
“Advancing racial justice and addressing health disparities requires a coordinated approach that focuses on all influencers of health, not just episodic clinical care,” said Dr. Steven Schneider, Saint Mary’s Hospital President. “Saint Mary’s Hospital is committed to improving individual and public health and addressing the interrelated system of inequities that lead to disparate health outcomes.”
The $80,000 grant will allow the hospital’s emergency department, family clinic, and outreach programs to pilot a screening and referral system for social factors that influence health. Patients who need extra support will be referred to a community health worker and connected to community resources through an electronic system that will allow clinicians and caseworkers to ensure patients receive the supports and to track their outcomes. The results of the screening will also be integrated with the hospital’s electronic health record system.
The hospital will track the impact of this initiative. If successful, it could be expanded to other departments, as well as other hospitals with the same parent company, Trinity Health Of New England.
“We are truly grateful to the Connecticut Health Foundation for funding this pilot program so we may better serve the health care needs of everyone in the Waterbury community. Partnerships like this allow us to fulfill our mission of serving as a compassionate and healing presence,” stated Amanda Nardiello, MPA, Chief Development Officer, Saint Mary’s Hospital Foundation.