Tina Brown Stevenson, Senior Vice President, UnitedHealthcare
Did you know that more than 11,000 men and women in Connecticut are currently experiencing homelessness? These startling statistics are why I joined the Partnership for Strong Communities (PSC) in June to announce a $300,000 grant from the United Health Foundation (UHF) that will expand the Opening Doors-CT Hospital Initiative. The initiative connects people who are experiencing homelessness and are frequent users of hospital emergency departments with housing and other services. The grant from UHF will help form additional Community Care Teams (CCTs) throughout the state, which are teams of health care, housing and social service providers who work together to create individualized care plans for clients, making sure that each person receives the range of supports that they need.
Terri DiPietro, a CCT member at Middlesex Hospital, sees firsthand the difference they are making in their community. “All of us, from hospital staff and housing providers to mental health professionals, are able to coordinate and make sure a patient is getting services and not falling through the cracks.”
Led by PSC and the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA), the Initiative began in 2014 with four CCTs operating in five hospitals across the state. A core component of the expansion will include establishing a Learning Collaborative with key partners to share best practices, developing online resources, and a qualitative and quantitative program analysis. The grant announcement was made during the final forum in PSC’s annual IForum series, sponsored by UHF. The final forum brought together over 150 community leaders, including Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, homeless advocates and health care professionals to discuss innovative ways to increase access to care.
“Through the work of so many community-based organizations and partners like UHF, we are working to bring more care and support to people who need it most,” said Gov. Malloy. “We’ve set high goals to end homelessness, and it is through programs and partnerships like this that we are delivering real progress.”
Alicia Woodsby, executive director at Partnership for Strong Communities, notes that “Stable housing is a key component to reducing the number of emergency department visits, because without a safe, secure home to go to after hospitalization or treatment, people cannot recover and get back on their feet.”
Carl Schiessl, Director of Regulatory Advocacy at CHA, added, “Hospitals across the state are embracing this CCT concept, recognizing that a comprehensive system like this will greatly improve the health outcomes of people experiencing homelessness, and will also reduce costs in the long-term. The work that hospitals are doing to form and maintain CCTs is already making a difference in people’s lives.”
Expanding the OD-CT Hospital Initiative will help provide care for the thousands of men and women throughout CT who are struggling with homelessness and health care. UHF is grateful for the opportunity to support area hospitals, networks of people, and services that make high-quality health care accessible and affordable for everyone.
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