United Hospital Fund (UHF) today announced a new initiative, Partnerships for Early Childhood Development, to support 11 New York City hospitals and their community partners in a year-long effort to help pediatric primary care practices initiate, expand, or improve on efforts to screen children ages 0-5 for social and environmental risks that interfere with healthy development, and connect them with the services that can address those risks.
The participating pediatric primary care practices serve more than 26,000 children annually in New York City, and UHF expects they will refer more than 7,000 children and their caregivers to services during the coming year. Each hospital will partner with and provide financial support to one or more community-based social services partners.
UHF has also established a Learning Collaborative to provide the participating hospitals and community organizations with resources, training, technical assistance, and forums for the members to share what they learn. A funding collaborative consisting of United Hospital Fund, the Altman Foundation, and The New York Community Trust (The Trust) will support the initiative with grants totaling $703,062.
“UHF has been working to strengthen primary care capacity for a number of years, and expanded its focus to children in 2016 with our Children's Health Initiative,” said UHF President James R. Tallon, Jr. “Partnerships for Early Childhood Development builds on this work, and I am excited and proud to see how it is advancing our goal of ensuring that every child in the city has the opportunity to grow up safe and healthy.”
The hospitals in the initiative are Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, Cohen Children's Medical Center (part of Northwell Health), NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island, NYC Health + Hospitals/Gouverneur Health, Interfaith Medical Center, Montefiore Medical Center, Mount Sinai Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork -Presbyterian/Queens, St. John's Episcopal Hospital, and NYU Langone Medical Center/NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers.
There is widespread consensus among physicians and childhood development experts that adversity and stress in early childhood can cause long term damage to physical, social, and behavioral outcomes. By screening for such health risks as food insecurity, unsafe housing, parental depression, adult employment needs, and household literacy – all factors that are often referred to as social determinants of health – the pediatric practices participating in Partnerships for Early Childhood Development will be able to identify vulnerable children and connect them and their caregivers to the appropriate services and supports.
“Nearly half of New York City's kids live at or near poverty, and they are the children at greatest risk of poor health from social determinants,” said Dr. Benard Dreyer, director of pediatrics at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and immediate past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This initiative offers exactly the kind of support and collaboration that is needed to meet the needs of these children. I believe these partnerships can serve as models for what should be done throughout the nation.”
Health insurance coverage rates for children in New York are at an all-time high of 97.5 percent due to the expansion of public insurance programs. A report issued in January 2016 by UHF's Children's Health Initiative, Seizing the Moment: Strengthening Children's Primary Care in New York, notes that near universal coverage creates a historic opportunity to improve the overall health and well-being of all of the city's youngest residents and address the social determinants of health.
“Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that pediatricians screen their patients for social risks to health,” said Suzanne Brundage, program director of the Children's Health Initiative. “Yet such screening is far from routine. I am hopeful that these hospital-community partnerships and the Learning Collaborative will speed the momentum toward nationwide efforts to address the risks impacting the long-term health of children.
“We believe the coordinated care offered by these partnerships is a win-win-win model for children, community organizations, and hospitals” said Irfan Hasan, The Trust's program director for Healthy Lives.
“Much attention has been paid to the transformation of health care for high-need adults” added Rachael N. Pine, senior program officer for health at the Altman Foundation. “We hope this project will help pave the way to a comparable transformation in pediatric care, with potentially wide-ranging and life-long benefits to children.”
Each of the hospitals and community centers in the partnership will focus on identifying and addressing a range of risks to health. By the end of the year all participating teams are expected to have tested a screening tool with at least a pilot group of patients, identified steps to move toward universally screening all young children for at least one social determinant of health, made referrals to their community partners, and be well positioned to continue screening beyond the one-year grant period.
About United Hospital Fund
United Hospital Fund works to build a more effective health care system for every New Yorker. An independent, nonprofit organization, we analyze public policy to inform decision-makers, find common ground among diverse stakeholders, and develop and support innovative programs that improve the quality, accessibility, affordability, and experience of patient care. For more on our initiatives and programs please visit our website at www.uhfnyc.org and follow us on Twitter.
About Altman Foundation
Founded in 1913 by Benjamin Altman, the mission of the Altman Foundation is to support programs and institutions that enrich the quality of life in New York City, with a particular focus on initiatives that help individuals, families, and communities benefit from the services and opportunities that will enable them to achieve their full potential. With a focus on vulnerable populations, the Foundation awards grants in the areas of Education, Health, Strengthening Communities, and Arts and Culture. For more information about the Altman Foundation please visit our website at www.altmanfoundation.org.
About The New York Community Trust
The New York Community Trust is committed to promoting healthy lives, promising futures, and thriving communities for all New Yorkers. We are the community foundation for New York City, Westchester, and Long Island—with a permanent endowment dedicated to improving our region through strategic grantmaking, civic engagement, and smart giving. Through our competitive grants program, made possible with money left to us by bequest, we fund programs that improve the lives of all New Yorkers, especially those most in need. For more information on The Trust, please visit our website at www.nycommunitytrust.org and follow us on Twitter.