By Stephanye Clarke
Ever experience that moment when you look at your kid, point your finger, and quote one of your parents?
Well, I had something similar happen to me, except I harnessed my former boss. While reading a couple articles about innovative ways to address social determinants of health, I was flooded with memories of hearing my former director of health at Ledge Light Health District discuss the need for collaborative approaches to keep communities healthy and how policies of various agencies and organizations influence health outcomes.
I also recalled his mantra that nearly every policy is health policy. These are the two articles that made it all come back to me.
I came across an article titled “Tackling the social root of clinical problems” which focused on engineering strategies to address social needs of patients who frequently use the emergency room. Community Care Teams use a coordinated, multidisciplinary network of community partners to “address patient needs and reduce barriers to quality care and good health.”
Middlesex Hospital piloted this model in 2010 and saw a marked improvement in emergency room usage by 52 percent. Ultimately, Middlesex Hospital integrated the Community Care Team approach into its emergency room protocol. The fact sheet below demonstrates the ongoing benefits of this method.
Another most inspiring article echoed the same demand for new, coordinated and collaborative approaches to keeping communities healthy. The key excerpt for me was:
“We need BOLD partnership, approaches, and change to transform our medicalized culture, where everything is viewed as a condition or disease that can be addressed with the newest pill or medical treatment. Instead, we must learn to focus on what are often referred to as the UPSTREAM causes of disease, many of which are rooted in social, economic, and community conditions. This will start with INTEGRATION among leaders from community-based organizations, hospitals and health systems, and governmental public health agencies at the LOCAL level, where action and change have the greatest chance of success, building upon the increase in the availability of electronic DATA to target resources effectively and measure impact.”
After reading this, I repeated my boss, saying, “All policy is health policy.” And I thought I was going to turn into my parents!