Reading Hospital – Tower Health announced Wednesday that it is one of only 14 organizations across the country, and one of three in Pennsylvania, selected to receive a grant from The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). The $180,000 grant will be used as part of the “Improving Social Determinants of Health: Getting Further Faster Year 2” program.
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are defined as conditions and health outcomes impacted by the places people live, learn, work, and play. This includes, but is not limited to, housing, education, literacy, income, transportation, and access to healthy and nutritious foods.
The Community Connection team at Reading Hospital has completed more than 138,525 screenings and has addressed 53 percent of the social needs identified for patients in the community navigation program. The team has created 11,944 referrals to local community-based organizations with services to address or resolve patients’ social needs. For example, a patient with $8,000 in rent and utility debt was referred to Berks Coalition to End Homelessness. After applying for BCEH services, the patient received enough funds to cover her debt and secure an additional month of rent.
“What is so special about Reading Hospital receiving this grant is that organizations had to be invited to apply to receive funding,” said Desha Dickson, Associate Vice President, Community Wellness. “The grant funds utilized in 2021 demonstrated the success of our program. We are fortunate that additional funding will help the Community Connection team continue to provide access to the vital resources that lead to such positive results for our patients.”
The program engages community members and incorporates their feedback into our strategies, provides additional training and development for team members to enhance patient care, and continues to build community capacity through community-based organization partnerships.
Tanieka Mason, Senior Manager SDOH and Analytics, Community Wellness at Reading Hospital added, “This important grant will enable the Community Connection Project team to participate in an in-depth evaluation of our work. This will further strengthen the sustainability of addressing SDOH, improving health outcomes, advancing health equity through screening patients, and fostering community-clinical linkages.”