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How 15 Individuals Are Helping to Improve the Health of Thousands in Missouri

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In the surrounding counties of Springfield, Missouri, 43 percent of people live below the federal poverty level, earning an annual income of $12,140 or less, according to Jordan Valley Community Health Center as of 2017. And, 14.5 percent of the population remains uninsured.

When people don’t know if they can pay rent each month or put food on the table each day, scheduling a doctor’s appointment or getting proper health care is often not a top priority. These types of factors, like food insecurity, reliable transportation, social connection and stable housing are known as the social determinants of health and have a larger effect on a person’s health than their genetics.

Jordan Valley Community Health Center (JVCHC), in Missouri, is working to help remove those barriers. With the aid of a $1.5 million grant from UnitedHealthcare, this Federally Qualified Health Center has hired and trained a team of 15 community health workers.

These new hires are a critical resource to help guide vulnerable individuals through the health care system and connect them to the care and services they need. This year alone, these community health workers are projected to reach 6,000 people across southwest Missouri.

This program is one example of how UnitedHealthcare is committed to helping expand access to the social determinants of health. Missouri is one of the five states the company is focusing on for 2018, with a goal to reach 1 million people in need nationwide.

“We are a mission-driven company. Every day, our actions are guided by our mission to help people live healthier lives and to help make the health system work better for everyone – and by everyone, we mean everyone,” says Dr. Nicole Cooper, senior director of social responsibility at UnitedHealthcare. “We know that access to care at the local level in high-risk and high-need communities is a profound challenge that we needed to address.”