Improving Community Health: Results

Improving Community Health: Results

Highlights of progress through November 2010

Approach A: Provide health insurance for children

Over 800 children who do not qualify for public health insurance programs successfully maintained comprehensive health coverage through insurance provided through our grantee, CaliforniaKids Foundation. In addition to the grant funds, MCF played an instrumental role in galvanizing and maintaining financial and organizational support among the Children’s Health Initiative partners to continue to provide support for a new health insurance product (administered by PartnershipHealth Plan). Marin is one of the only counties in the state that has pooled resources together to transition children to a new product rather than disenroll children from health insurance.

Approach B: Strengthen the delivery of health services

The 17 capacity building and direct service grants provided under this strategy have substantially contributed to our grantees’ ability to serve low-income, uninsured Marin residents. With successful implementation of capacity-building grants, health care safety net providers have improved technology systems, expanded operations, acquired new leadership, and secured new funding sources. The direct service grants have resulted in a total of 2,519 underserved patients accessing low-cost health services over the past 18 months.

MCF funds are also helping support a continuum of care for underserved youth who would otherwise not access services. For example, Novato Youth Center and Huckleberry Youth Programs are working in partnership with Marin Community Clinic to attract and treat youth at satellite teen clinics based at the youth centers. The youth-service providers are lending their expertise to provide outreach, health education, and health screenings, while MCC is providing medical care on-site.

To meet the health needs of homeless adults, Ritter Center, with funds from MCF and others, has been able to expand its hours of operation. As a result of this expansion, Ritter will provide approximately 300 more medical visits this year than last (up to 3,600 annual visits). The demand for services among this particular population continues to outweigh the supply.

Approach C: Address the social determinants of health

There is great momentum in Marin to address a key social determinant of health: access to healthy, locally-grown food. Grants have helped improve access, especially for low-income residents, using several different strategies. Locally grown organic food has been distributed to schools and community centers, food stamps are now accepted at the farmer’s markets, an assessment about how food is grown and distributed is underway, and innovative efforts are in motion to improve the quality of food provided at public school lunch.

With support from MCF, Healthy Marin Partnership conducted community focus groups among seven different communities to better understand their barriers to health and their vision for a healthy community. Various themes emerged from the focus groups when residents were asked “What is your vision for a healthy community?”

One issue commonly cited across the focus groups was related to the lack of access to healthy, affordable food. Many residents expressed concern about the poor health outcomes they and their children experience, in part due to not having sufficient access to healthy, affordable food choices. Most striking was the variation in responses to that question across the different communities. For example, residents in the Canal area of San Rafael expressed the lack of job opportunities as one factor that impacts the health of their community. Meanwhile, Novato residents expressed concern over the high concentration of liquor stores and fast food outlets and Marin City residents described the lack of political decision-making power as a key determinant of health outcomes. To improve opportunities for health and support communities in achieving their visions for a healthy community, a customized and tailored approach for each community is required.

Several grantees have made significant progress in developing the infrastructure needed to improve access to fresh, locally grown food, especially for low-income children and families. For example, Agricultural Institute of Marin has created the capacity for farmers at their farmers markets to accept food stamps and vouchers from the federal Women, Infants & Children program. This new point of access for low-income families is a structural improvement that has the potential to impact thousands of families.

Over $10,000 of fresh farmers market food has been purchased by low-income individuals and families in the past six months as a result of the improved infrastructure. In addition, MCF is supporting a groundswell of effort to transform the quality of lunch food provided at public schools in Marin. School lunch financing and traditional production processes are significant barriers to change. However, a strong and diverse coalition, called Project Lunch, is successfully leveraging MCF resources to catalyze a movement that promises to improve access to healthy food, especially for low-income children.

By the numbers:

Area of Measurement For period 7/09-11/10 Goal of Strategic Plan
No. of children receiving health insurance 800+ 1,000/yr
No. of low-income patients receiving low-cost health services 2,519 2,100/yr
Patient satisfaction rate for those receiving health care 96% 85%

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