There are many communities across the nation that lack access to quality healthcare. People in rural areas or low-income communities, particularly, face a combination of infrastructural, financial and geographic challenges. Therefore, ensuring targeted populations have equitable access to preventative care, disease-specific support and health literacy programs helps to achieve our overall Community Health goal of improving health outcomes.
Hazleton Integration Project
Regular well-child checkups with a provider are a vital part in maintaining a young persons overall health, both in preventative care and identifying any potentially undiagnosed issues. However, recent (NCHS) data show the percentage of children under 18 who had a well check in the previous 12 months dropped from 93.8% in 2019 to 89% in 2021, and doctor visits dropped from 95.6% in 2019 to 91% in 2021. Even accounting for the pandemic, those numbers are trending in the wrong direction. , and many of those who miss regular checkups do so because of family financial difficulties or a lack of health insurance.
The Hazleton Integration Project (HIP), centered in the Luzerne County town of the same name, was designed to provide educational, cultural and athletic opportunities for economically underserved children and their families, but there is a significant health component that supported the past two years.
With Highmark’s funding and in conjunction with our partners at the Wright Center, Lehigh Valley Health and the Greater Hazleton Area School District, HIP ensures that children from the area’s most underserved families can afford necessary medical examinations. Due in large part to Highmark’s support, program leaders said HIP fulfilled every expectation by providing necessary medical exams to over 100 of the region’s neediest children, as well as accompanying vaccines when necessary.
The program’s need will continue to be great in years to come, as many immigrants are locating to the Hazleton area, but HIP’s foundation is strong, making it a reliable resource for children and their families.
Our work with provider partner Saint Francis Hospital already has long been a success, as we sponsored various events in the Wilmington area in recent years, and through Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware’s BluePrints for the Community*, invested in a mobile health program, purchased an ambulance in 2021, and supported their Backpack Weekend Meal Program in 2022. And the best, most certainly, is yet to come.
The hospital announced last year it would reimagine healthcare in its community by developing Healthy Village® at Saint Francis, adopting an increasingly popular development model that provides neighborhoods with emergency and acute health needs, behavioral health, long-term services and support, education and skills development, social determinants of health investments and economic revitalization. Consider it the intersection of neighborhood planning and community health. With the help of the hospital’s many partners, including Highmark, the goal is to create the ultimate one-stop care setting that promotes synergism, diversity and equity.
The Healthy Village® concept and design, trademarked and implemented by Dynamis Advisors, is the gateway to connecting patients and neighborhood residents alike with other services and support in the community, encouraging modern cross-disciplinary approaches critical to whole-person care: equitable access to healthcare, treatment for substance use and mental health, career training, education and affordable housing. This approach equally strengthens critically needed traditional health care services and addresses social determinates of health through trusted partners, woven into a single plan and system of care.
If Healthy Village® at Saint Francis is a snapshot of what the future of healthcare holds — and especially if it expands access to essential services — then Highmark Bright Blue Futures is happy to be right there with our long-term partner.
*BluePrints for the Community is Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware’s donor-advised fund at the Delaware Community Foundation
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