Getting to Better Health: Connecting Care and Community

The R2T forum on April 29 focused on the reality that social and economic determinants such as housing, employment and food security have a much greater impact on people’s health than clinical care.  The speakers and panelists provided rich data and real-life examples about the importance of building much stronger connections between those delivering medical care and community-based resources.  In short, better health does not come from health care alone.

The keynote speaker was Elizabeth Bradley, PhD, professor at the Yale School of Public Health. She is also co-author of the book, “The American Health Care Paradox:  Why Spending More is Getting us Less.”  Dr. Bradley spoke about the need for greater investment in social supports and community-based infrastructure in order to improve population health.

Our second speaker, Jenney Samuelson, assistant director of Vermont’s Blueprint for Health, discussed the development and operation of the multi-disciplinary community health care teams they have deployed throughout the state.

These two speakers were followed by a panel of local experts who work in care coordination and community outreach and a lively audience Q & A session.

Here are some though-provoking statements from the speakers:

“Our problem and our paradox is, how could we [United States] be spending all this money on medical care but not having good health outcomes.”-

Elizabeth Bradley, PhD, Professor at the Yale School of Public Health

“We’ve got our health care system and we’ve got our social services system, and we needed a bridge between the two, and our community health teams… began to form that bridge.”

 – Jenney Samuelson, Assistant Director of Vermont’s Blueprint for Health

“Having the relationship with the primary care provider is something that a lot of people in our population (African-American) don’t have.”

Lawrence Samuel Young, Health Equity Fellow, St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center 

Here are a few take-away lessons the participants said they left the program with:

“[I learned about] the emphasis on (the impact of ) socio-economic issues on health care problems. I also [learned] how important collaboration and dialogue are to solving these problems.” 

“[I learned about] income inequality and its impact on health matters (housing and neighborhoods).”

“[We need] more collaboration across sectors to improve health in community.”

Click here for more details about the event.

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