Dignity Health grants $60K to local nonprofits | TheUnion.com

Dignity Health grants $60K to local nonprofits

Gary Cooke
Special to The Union

Five local organizations have been awarded a total of more than $60,000 by the 2014 Dignity Health Community Grants program, to support partnerships that will help a variety of regional residents, from at-risk teenage girls to seniors needing medical care.

In announcing the grants, Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital CEO Katherine Medeiros lauded the organizations for "working together to integrate care and services that respond to priority health issues in our region."

This year's grant program focused on innovative partnerships between community organizations.

Two initiatives were funded, linking the five area nonprofit organizations: The Friendship Club (TFC) partnered with Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition (DVSAC); and Community Recovery Resources (CoRR), FREED and Western Sierra Medical Clinic, Inc. (WSMC) joined forces.

"We've always encouraged collaboration, but the partnership grant programs demand it," Medeiros said. "By working as a team to coordinate different services and by creating shared practices, organizations can strengthen their service offerings, leverage resources, and begin to build a greater continuum of care for the people they serve."

She noted that collaboration "also provides a platform for organizations to learn about other organizations and the different services they offer, and how they might work together more effectively to close gaps in care."

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The grant linking TFC and DVSAC is built around the creation of a new program called Building Bridges to a Healthy Future, which will provide access to girls from both organizations to useful programs.

"We've cooperated in the past, but this is the first large-scale collaboration with DVSAC," said Jennifer Singer, executive director at TFC. "We're grateful to Dignity Health for supporting these kinds of partnerships. Without their support we probably would not have thought as far out of the box."

Singer underlined the importance of collaboration.

"We can do better together than we can alone," she said. "This gives us an opportunity to touch the lives of our young girls as early as possible and help steer them clear of abusive relationships."

TFC reaches out to at-risk girls though one-on-one adult mentoring. DVSAC works with organizations throughout the community to provide resources to help girls at risk for unhealthy relationships and aid them in healing from the effects of interpersonal violence.

The second grant is a collaboration to create a "no wrong door" approach and streamlined access for care between CoRR, WSMC and FREED.

CoRR is dedicated to building healthy communities through healthy families.

FREED works with seniors and people with disabilities to eliminate barriers to help.

Western Sierra Medical Clinic provides medical, dental, and behavioral care to people regardless of their ability to pay.

Working together under the Dignity Health grant, these three organizations will streamline access to care and services by cross-training staff from each organization to ensure that clients may easily navigate into the spectrum of services they need, from behavioral health to medical to substance abuse and other forms of care.

By improving this access, the organizations hope to reduce hospital readmission rates, and ensure primary and preventive care for clients.

Ariel King Lovett, deputy director of CoRR, estimated that the program will provide direct services to over 700 individuals in the county's most vulnerable populations, including people at risk of re-admission to the hospital, substance users, and people with complex health conditions who might be better served in a substance treatment setting than an emergency room.

They will be helping about 120 people with disabilities, chronic diseases, or who are seniors. About 400 will get primary care and substance abuse services, she said.

Lovett said the three organizations have worked together in the past.

"This opportunity strengthens and focuses our partnership to serve some of our community's most vulnerable individuals. We will focus resources on effective case management to increase access to the appropriate services, with the goal of improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs over time," she said. "The community at large will benefit through effective early detection, intervention, and treatment of people at risk of substance abuse disorders and the promotion of public safety, reducing crime, poverty, and homelessness."

Dignity Health grants, Lovett said, "serve as an important catalyst for creative collaboration to address our community's most pressing challenges, and we're grateful to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital for this opportunity to work more closely with FREED and WSMC."

Debbie Wagner, director of physician recruitment and community outreach for Sierra Nevada Memorial, said the combined grants total among Dignity Health's 38-member hospitals have supported 3,000 projects and programs totaling nearly $47 million since the grants began in 1990.

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.

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