Sutter Health will match up to $20 million in contributions made to local governments in northern California to support the development of housing available with few restrictions to those who need it, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
Sutter has already matched nearly $2 million in funds contributed to housing programs in Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties through the “Housing First” program.
- Activities such as these suggest hospitals are taking on a larger role in communities than they have in the past, as a Health Affairs blog post explained.
Sutter is taking a lead role in northern California communities when it comes to addressing homelessness. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has given his support to the “Housing First” program and Sutter has also hosted public officials from the region to address the problem.
“The traditional ‘silos’ of medical, behavioral health and social services can’t meet the needs of our population alone,” Jim Hickman, CEO of Better Health East Bay, which is a part of Sutter Health, told Healthcare Dive.
There is good reason for health systems to engage in these activities and to explore non-traditional partnerships to improve health. A growing body of evidence suggests that social, behavioral, and environmental factors have enormous effects on physical health. This has led hospitals to spearhead initiatives that, for instance, build parks, create access to health foods, and help people to get their GED or find jobs, according to the Health Affairs post.
Payers are also increasingly taking on a larger role in the communities where they operate. Humana recently began allowing employees to take paid time off to volunteer. Employees who take advantage of the policy are not only giving back to their communities, they are also improving their own well-being.
Healthcare organizations, which are frequently well-recognized and major employers in areas where they operate, are powerful enough to make an impact when it comes to addressing certain societal problems. As healthcare continues down the path toward population health, it makes sense for healthcare organizations to continue looking beyond their own walls to make a difference.