Daughters of Charity awarded grant extension to help clients

By Christine Bordelon, Clarion Herald

Daughters of Charity Health Centers (DCHC) continues to strengthen compassionate and affordable healthcare at its 10 healthcare centers in New Orleans.

A $1 million grant extension through UnitedHealthcare announced May 20 allows DCHC to carry on its successful Community Health Worker program through Daughters of Charity Health Centers’ Care Fellowship team of client advocates that coordinate health care and needed non-medical resources.

“UnitedHealthcare, in recognizing our previous efforts, connection to the community and the convenience of our health centers, believes that community health workers represent the best opportunity to assist underserved populations,” said Michael Griffin, president and chief executive officer of Daughters of Charity Health Centers. “Therefore, given our success with providing health care access to all, especially the underserved, UnitedHealthcare believed that we could successfully implement the company’s vision for their initiative.”

In 2018, UnitedHealthcare partnered with DCHC to revive its Community Health Worker program, that initially ran from 2012-14. UnitedHealthcare awarded a $1.5 million grant to fund healthcare workers at all 10 center locations.

“This wasn’t the first time UnitedHealthcare and DCHC has worked together,” Griffin said.

In 2007, UnitedHealthcare awarded DCHC a grant for  its successful, nationally-recognized Patient Centered Medical Home Model.

Big announcement

The success of the current, year-long community health workers initiative was publicized May 20, when UnitedHealthcare said the 15 persons hired with the 2018 grant money helped an estimated 11,000 underserved or underinsured New Orleanians.

Griffin said the initial target was 3,750 individuals, but response to the initiative and overwhelming need caused the number served to triple.

“Community Health workers/navigators assisted clients with finding housing, food, employment training and, in several instances, assisted them with applying for benefits such as Medicare and Medicaid that they didn’t know they were qualified to receive,” Griffin said. “In addition, community health workers/navigators make appointments for current patients who have gaps in care as well as connect patients to higher levels of specialty care such as cardiology and neurology.”

By extending support of the Daughters of Charity Health  Centers’ Care Fellowship initiative for 2019, “salaries and benefits for the Community Health Workers and other expenditures that are critical to serving our clients” were covered, Griffin said.

The grant is part of UnitedHealthcare’s Empowering Health commitment to impact the nationwide health of underserved populations. Having discovered that Louisiana “was ranked 50th among U.S. states in overall  health due to factors such as a high prevalence of smoking, obesity and children in poverty,” according to United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Ranking, the grant extension was important.

“Every day, our actions are guided by our mission to help people live healthier lives and to help make the health system work better for everyone,” Dr. Nicole Cooper, vice president of social responsibility at UnitedHealthcare. “We know that access to care at the local level in high-risk and high-need communities is a profound challenge that we needed to address. That’s why it’s important to work with entities such as DCHC, whose mission mirrors ours.”

Part of community

The Daughters of Charity have provided health care in New Orleans for 185 years. In 1992, when the Daughters sold Hotel Dieu Hospital, the Daughters of Charity of New Orleans created its current primary and preventive health service model.

In recognition of its founding in 1633 in Paris by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac and its partnership with Ascension Health – the largest, Catholic non-profit health care system in the country – Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans is changing its name to Ascension DePaul Services. The Daughters of Charity Health Centers will become DePaul Community Health Centers.

“Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of our community remains steadfast and will be strengthened by this new name that ties directly to St. Vincent de Paul’s passion to care for the sick and those living in poverty,” Griffin said.

The target date for transitioning to the new name is July 1, Griffin added.

“The full transition is expected to continue through 2019 and possibly into early 2020. Patients will continue to see the primary care provider they know and trust. Plus, we’ll have access to other experts and specialists nationwide via our association with Ascension, our parent company.”

Currently, Daughters of Charity Health Centers has sites in the Algiers, Bywater, Carrollton, Gentilly, Gretna, Kenner, Desire, Metairie, New Orleans East and the Prytania neighborhoods and provides health care access for everyone. For details, visit, www.dchcno.org. Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org.

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