Cooper University Health Care, through its Urban Health Institute (UHI), has been awarded a two-year, $280,000 grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation to enhance screening for social determinants of health (SDoH), drive connections to community-based organizations to increase the breadth and depth of resources available to patients, and provide workforce development around the care of marginalized individuals. This grant is part of an initiative known as the New Jersey Safety Net Innovation Program (NJ SNIP).
“We are grateful to the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation for their generous support and commitment to providing funding for important initiatives that will improve health and empower and strengthen communities,” said Steven T. Kaufman, MD, medical director of the Urban Health Institute and division head of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Cooper.
Through the grant, the UHI will be working in partnership with the Camden-based Center For Family Services, a leading non-profit social services provider with a strong and innovative continuum of care to help individuals and families lead capable, responsible, fulfilled lives in strong and healthy communities.
“This cooperative model highlights the critical intersectionality of healthcare and social services, where Center For Family Services’ role is to ensure that residents are engaged warmly and empowered to determine what they need to put their health and well-being first,” said Merilee Rutolo, president and chief strategy officer at Center For Family Services.
“The collaboration between our two organizations will improve healthcare navigation, strengthen relationships, increase direct referrals, and expand our existing partnership,” said Dr. Kaufman.
SDoH are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Examples of SDoH include the availability of safe housing, transportation, and neighborhood; racism, discrimination, and violence; education, job opportunities, and income; access to nutritious foods and physical activity opportunities; and language and literacy skills, among others.
The grant will be used for assessment of individuals seen at the UHI for SDoH to better connect them to available community resources; workforce development to prepare staff to handle the complexities of a marginalized population; and team building between UHI and other community-based organizations to improve communications, facilitate referrals, and provide continuity of services for patients for better outcomes.
About Cooper’s Urban Health Institute
The UHI was founded with seed funding in 2013 from The Nicholson Foundation and Cooper to redesign outpatient primary care and specialty care for those with the most complicated social needs and difficulty accessing medical care. The mission of the UHI is to decrease disparities in health care for low income, marginalized individuals through innovative measures in care delivery and care management, all while bending the cost curve. UHI provides increased access for this population through co-locating primary care and 23 medical and surgical specialties.
The primary care clinic includes integration with addiction medicine, behavioral health and psychiatry to lower barriers for essential mental health care services. In addition, innovative areas of care delivery include Health Coach support, group visits, shared medical appointments, and LPN clinical protocols. Last year, Camden residents, those with Medicaid in the surrounding townships, and self-pay individuals accounted for more than 25,000 unique patients out of nearly 51,000 visits across UHI’s five clinical offices.