Recent studies have shown up to 80 percent of a person’s health may actually be impacted by things not related to medicine. For example, reliable transportation can predict job security. Employment instability leads to housing insecurity. And lack of housing makes it much more challenging to cook, let alone afford ingredients for healthy meals.
When these non-medical basic needs, or social determinants of health, aren’t met, then routine things like annual wellness check-ups or dental visits quickly become a luxury for some people.
UnitedHealthcare is working to reverse these trends through its Empowering Health program, a national initiative to help improve the well-being of underserved people in local communities through greater investments in social-support programs.
On May 21, UnitedHealthcare awarded a $1 million grant to Jordan Valley Community Health Center (JVCHC) in Springfield, Mo., to help the nonprofit expand its community health worker program. Last year, UnitedHealthcare provided $1.5 million to JVCHC, which enabled the health care center to reach more than 10,000 patients by adding 15 new community health workers and expanding their services.
“We are very grateful to have received this additional grant from UnitedHealthcare to grow our community health worker program and offer needed services to more people in our community,” said Brooks Miller, CEO of Jordan Valley Community Health Center. “You can’t put a price on hope. The personal connection our community health workers have with the people they serve establishes a caring and trusting environment at Jordan Valley Community Health Center. This grant will enable us to build more relationships and further improve our community’s health.”
Community health workers at JVCHC connect Missourians in need to critical resources such as food, housing and transportation, and provide one-on-one health screenings and preventive care services. The team also helps individuals and families apply for and use health benefits, schedule doctor appointments, manage medications, and provide personal support to set and reach goals that can improve their long-term health.
“We believe health care must expand beyond clinical care and treat the whole person by addressing each individual’s unique social needs, such as food security, access to transportation, and safe and affordable housing,” said Jamie Bruce, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Missouri. “Empowering Health will accelerate the work and resources necessary to improve the health of many people in this area, especially those with complex health and social service needs.”