Community-based organizations in Wisconsin have begun partnering with health systems to decrease health disparities for the most vulnerable members of the population.
- Adair Mosley: President and CEO Pillsbury United Communities
- George Hinton, CEO Social Development Commission
- Michelle Hinton, Impact Director of Health and Well-being, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities
Speakers from the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs’ webinar on May 26 continued to elevate the importance of cross-sector social partnerships to decrease health disparities in disadvantaged communities.
Similarly to Adair Mosley and Pillsbury United Communities, whose story was mentioned in part one, George Hinton and his organization have taken action to turn advocacy efforts into effective change.
“I’m a true believer that the integration of health care in the social sector, if done in the right way, can make a huge difference in the outcomes of our patients,” Hinton said.
Hinton is the CEO of the Social Development Commission, a community based organization (CBO) created under the Johnson administration to decrease poverty rates and improve economic outlooks for community members.
The Problem at Hand
Hinton’s patient population in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is facing a primary care desert. Many FQHCs are overflowing with patients and have a month-long wait time for appointments. As a result, this care gap is pushing many health care activities unnecessarily into emergency rooms. Hinton urged that this is not primary care.
Negotiation With Health Care Leaders
Hinton has held numerous talks with CEOs across Milwaukee to integrate health and social services to improve patient education, career outlooks and overall health. One notable negotiation was with Ascension Health, a national health care organization that sought to pull some hospitals from the area due to a lack of incoming revenue. This was partly attributed to lack of community members’ resources to seek hospital care. Hinton said health care organizations should take note that they cannot continue to pull resources from the community and still expect a healthy population. Through discussion, Hinton encouraged Ascension to talk to community members directly and find a solution that adapted to their needs, rather than a solution that focused on a monetary cost-benefit analysis.
“We have designed a lot of our health care systems on models of profitability, to seek out and provide to people who have the greatest ability to pay,” Hinston said. “But that has left us with parts of our community across the state where there are people who don’t have the resources necessary to have the concentration with the physicians or the other types of providers that can make them healthy.”
Leveraging Community Partnerships
In another effort, the Social Development Commission is partnering with one of Wisconsin’s premiere high schools, as well as universities in the area and Ascension Health to make the school a site of medical learning for high school and college students, while providing accessible care to community members.
Michelle Hinton closed out the webinar by arguing that the responsibility of health care organizations is to co-author these initiatives with community leaders and CEOs who can help make informed decisions with their expertise, rather than waiting for when a problem arises.
“The role of health care is to partner with leadership in a way that there’s shared leadership and shared vision in terms of what needs to occur as far as solutions,” Michelle said. “…Have experts at the table doing the work with you, instead of as a second thought.”