This blog is written by Michael Griffin, who is a non-employee guest blogger sharing perspectives on DePaul Community Health Centers’ partnership with UnitedHealthcare Community & State. Griffin’s authored content outside of this blog may not be representative of UnitedHealthcare Community & State’s perspectives or business approach and should not be considered endorsed by UnitedHealthcare.
Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) like DePaul Community Health Centers are known for their role in caring for underserved populations. Our centers are immersed in New Orleans communities that experience a higher risk of negative social drivers of health (SDOH), which contribute to poor health outcomes. Through our collaborations with UnitedHealthcare Community & State and their FQHC Board, we have developed innovative approaches to address unmet SDOH both within our facilities and out in the community.
Partnership fosters community health worker program
DePaul Community Health Centers has 10 locations across New Orleans and the surrounding area. We have partnered with UnitedHealthcare Community & State over the past 10 years to become a nationally-recognized, patient-centered medical home in our community.
The needs of our community go beyond health services. Many of the people we serve are in need of housing, food, legal services, workforce development and job retention services. The programs we’ve created through our partnership have helped address many unmet SDOH needs, and have helped us monitor progress and evaluate the impact of our programs.
Our community health worker program was born out of conversations with Community & State’s FQHC Board, where we collaborate with other health centers to develop new paths of care. After three years of piloting this program, we are now launching it across our centers and have gained the attention of other health centers nationwide. Through the Centers of Excellence programming with Community & State, we are training other organizations to introduce this same level of care coordination and integrated physical and behavioral health services that have made our program so successful.
FQHC Board partnership enables new services
Launching and sustaining new programs can be difficult. Community & State’s support of initiatives like our community health worker program and Diabetic Wellness Days pilot has helped us introduce new services to patients that will have a long-lasting, positive impact on our community’s health. Our work with the FQHC Board has also helped us foster a partnership with Unity of Greater New Orleans, which is a collaborative of organizations focused on providing housing and wraparound services for individuals facing homelessness in the New Orleans area. With Community & State sharing data with our centers in real time, we can show how health outcomes improve through these new approaches to care.
We work with the FQHC Board to think beyond how care delivery has been done in the past to better meet the emerging needs of our patients. This includes implementing value-based models and pursuing funding that can sustain our community health workers into the future.
Boosting COVID-19 response
In response to the ongoing pandemic, we have partnered with community-based organizations and nonprofits in the New Orleans area to complete COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. To date, we have administered more than 17,000 vaccinations by bringing the vaccine directly into the community, including schools and community centers. This has included working with universities and courthouses to administer vaccines to staff on site.
New Orleans has a large service industry, including casino and restaurant workers who have been working through the pandemic at a high risk of exposure. Working with Community & State, state government and local employers, we are helping individuals understand their vaccine eligibility and identifying sites where they can receive the vaccine. We are also continuing to work with other FQHCs in the area to help slow the spread of the virus and build herd immunity through vaccination efforts.
We are grateful for our partnership with UnitedHealthcare Community & State and the FQHC Board. Through their insights and support, we can continue to find new ways to care for our communities through programs and services tailored to the needs of the people we serve.