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Leadership Blog

Sharing Hope With Underserved Neighbors in Our Communities

By Fawn Preuss, Division Program Manager, Community Health and Benefit, St. Luke’s Health

January 05, 2024 Posted in: Leadership
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At St. Luke’s Health, a member of CommonSpirit Health, our mission is clear: “We make the healing presence of God known in our world by improving the health of the people we serve, especially those who are vulnerable, while we advance social justice for all.”

Especially those who are vulnerable.

A rope is strong because it has multiple strands braided together. When lack of access to health care prevents some members of our communities from thriving, we’re all worse off. SLH works to create healthy communities for everyone. We can’t do it without the help of a network of partners. That’s why we’re excited to support the work of several fantastic nonprofit organizations by participating in the CommonSpirit Health Community Health Improvement Grants program, which seeks to improve health equity in the communities we serve.

Better Together

Through the Community Health Improvement Grants program, hospitals award funds to eligible 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in their communities. SLH joined the program in 2024, bringing the number of participating CommonSpirit Health hospitals in Texas to 15. The program is an important investment in our communities and embodies our mission of improving the health of the people we serve, especially the most vulnerable.

Supporting other organizations working toward our shared goals with built-in accountability benefits everyone involved. The Community Health Improvement Grants program is a way for us to work outside our hospital walls to address the significant needs of the community that we identified in our community health needs assessments. Better still, the program allows us to deepen our relationships with community organizations who will continue to see us as interested, invested partners they can count on.

We received more than 60 grant proposals during our inaugural application period. We’re funding 19 projects in 2024, with awards totaling more than $970,000. I was excited and impressed by the many strong applications we received this first year. Two recipient organizations and their projects, in particular, stand out.

Helping Human Trafficking Survivors

Houston, tragically, is a hub of human trafficking. San José Clinic helps survivors access high-quality health care, and we’re honored to support this important work.

San José Clinic has provided safety net health care services in Houston for more than 100 years. Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center awarded the clinic $151,000 to strengthen its assistance to human trafficking survivors in Harris and Fort Bend counties. With this funding, the clinic will provide trauma-informed care, health screenings, and medical, dental, vision, pharmacy and behavioral health services to uninsured survivors. Other projects include:

  • Community outreach events

  • Facilitation of evidence-based training for patient care staff, including physicians and senior-level nursing students in academic health care programs

  • Increased service referrals

  • Transportation for 300 human trafficking survivors to San José Clinic appointments via Houston METRO or Uber Health


Working Toward Wellness

San José Clinic also received a $51,500 grant from SLH–Sugar Land Hospital to support chronic disease management for the uninsured at its Fort Bend location. The funds will support a variety of programs and services, including:

  • Disease state management program that features patient counseling, blood pressure management education, medication management and access to electronic monitoring tools

  • Distribution of 200 blood pressure monitors and 200 pillboxes to patients with chronic health conditions, as well as education on blood pressure self-monitoring and medication management

  • PharmD student education

  • Projects to improve patient referral facilitation and compliance

  • Self-measured blood pressure monitoring program to manage hypertension and reduce heart attack and stroke risk

  • Transportation assistance, including approximately 100 roundtrip Uber Health rides for patients to access primary and specialty care services

 

The clinic’s goal is to enable all patients to access important services to ensure good health and improve quality of life. This will help patients with chronic conditions avoid emergency department visits and reduce costs and wait times for the community.

Enhancing Health Care Access in Montgomery County

Interfaith Community Clinic has provided medical, dental and other services to uninsured people in Montgomery County since 1996. Recently, the clinic received support from SLH–The Woodlands Hospital in the form of a $55,000 grant to improve health care access for 860 uninsured patients who wouldn’t otherwise receive preventive services. The funds will provide:

  • Access to a wellness checkup and flu shot for 300 adults

  • Access to a wellness, dental and vision exam via community outreach opportunities for 300 children

  • Annual preventive health care appointments for 260 adults

 

In addition, the hospital’s grant will allow Interfaith Community Clinic to staff its satellite clinic in rural Montgomery County an additional one day per week, doubling its weekly availability. Increasing the clinic’s number of service days from one to two allows medical providers to care for more patients at a location where the caseload has tripled since the facility opened in April 2023.

Eyeing an Even Bigger Impact

For me, the Community Health Improvement Grants program speaks to the heart of the SLH mission. I’m proud to be part of a health system that values community outreach and is working to eliminate health disparities. Many of the communities we serve are truly in need, and this program could help move the needle.

As we move forward with the Community Health Improvement Grants program in the years ahead, I envision improved resource connection, meaningful collaboration and cultivated partnerships across the Texas division. We look forward to collaborating with organizations that, like us, are working to improve health equity in the communities we serve. This is a heavy lift, but together, we can bear the burden.

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