ChristianaCare Health System is launching its first “community investment fund” to help address the social, behavioral, and environmental factors that can contribute to poor health. From hunger to unemployment, domestic violence and homelessness, the state’s largest hospital system is working with 32 nonprofit groups in hopes of reducing the root causes of poor health.
ChristianaCare CEO Dr. Janice Nevin calls it the “bio-psycho-social” approach to health, helping the community in social care needs in addition to physical and mental health. “Only about 10 to 20% of someone’s health has to do with the care delivery system,” she said. “It’s the other 80% that’s around mental and behavioral health needs and what we call social determinants of health.”
The fund will be a cornerstone of the health system’s community outreach. “This is a commitment to the good health of our neighbors,” said Bettina Tweardy Riveros, chief health equity officer at Christiana Care. “We are aligning our resources to increase our effectiveness and impact in our community so all Delawareans can achieve their best health.”
Groups getting funding include AIDS Delaware, the Latin American Community Center, UrbanPromise Wilmington and the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The coalition’s executive director Sue Ryan said health care workers often have the first contact with victims of domestic violence. “It’s really critical for the medical care provider to have a resource that they can connect this victim to,” Ryan said. “Domestic violence, of course, has an impact on health — not just physical — but emotional, and trauma can have an impact on your health for years and years.”
The fund will also support several community redevelopment corporations in Wilmington that help train workers while building homes and businesses in their neighborhoods.
Rev. Terrence Keeling leads the Central Baptist Community Development Corporation on Wilmington’s East Side. “We are happy that we have been chosen to partner with them on our shared goal, which is to ensure that every member of our community has the opportunity to experience their best health,” Keeling said.
Other areas getting funding include housing and food assistance, behavioral health and workforce development.
“These are investments that will take years to demonstrate a return, but we’re confident — because of the partnerships that we’re creating — that we will see that impact,” Nevin said.
The health system is already accepting applications for another round of funding next year.