For Immediate Release
Seattle, WA, [Dec. 13, 2021]
People in South King County and South Seattle will soon have access to more and better resources to improve their health, thanks to a $400,000 investment from Regence BlueShield to HealthierHere in partnership with Global to Local and YMCA of Greater Seattle.
The Regence “Four Communities” project, which aims to increase access to preventative and chronic care for people living in areas with high health disparities, identified zip codes in South King County as priority locations for Washington State and selected local community-based organizations that are making strides to improve population health.
The investments will expand and strengthen linguistically and culturally relevant community-based care coordination, scaling efforts such as community health worker (CHW) programs in SeaTac, Tukwila, Burien, and beyond. CHWs serve as trusted liaisons for community members navigating complex health topics and social needs, providing tailored case management, lifestyle classes, and more.
Guidance from someone who shares your language, culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and lived experiences can make a big difference for community members seeking services needed to live their healthiest lives, says Susan McLaughlin, CEO of HealthierHere, a local nonprofit collaborative. “We know 80% of a person’s health results from factors other than medical care,” she said. “Yet our systems are so fragmented and hard to navigate. Community-led and culturally responsive supports that address the social and economic determinants of health are critical to advancing health equity in our region."
South King County is home to some of the nation’s most diverse communities with more than 70 distinct linguistic groups represented, including newly arrived immigrants, refugees seeking asylum, second-generation immigrants, and longtime residents. In SeaTac and Tukwila, there are twice as many people living below the poverty line than other parts of the county, and residents experience far higher rates of chronic health conditions and risk factors for negative health outcomes. Access to essential services like affordable housing, food, transportation, employment, and health care remains a challenge.
COVID-19 has only deepened these challenges, disproportionately affecting communities of color. “The pandemic has exacerbated the ongoing struggles that many individuals, families and communities face to get access to and afford linguistically relevant physical and behavioral health support,” says Sally Lacy Sundar, Program Executive, Health Integration & Transformation at the YMCA of Greater Seattle. “We are thrilled to be able to expand our referral support programs for our most vulnerable communities through this investment.”
To address these systemic disparities, HealthierHere, together with clinical and community partners, is leading the development of the Connect2 Community Network, a regional community information exchange (CIE) designed to strengthen care coordination between health and social service organizations. Participating organizations will be able to use features like a shared resource database and bi-directional closed-loop referrals to strengthen their collaborations and holistically address clients’ needs.
Partners of the Connect2 Community Network since its inception, Global to Local and the Y are helping shape its community-centered design and implementation. “Human service providers have lamented for a long time not having the ability to do direct referrals and case management,” says AJ McClure, Executive Director of Global to Local. “What the Connect2 Community Network enables is sort of a double whammy. You increase your efficiency in terms of serving your client. You're also able to be more confident that the client is getting the services they need. This investment will help us deepen our work to clearly address the needs of our East African and Latinx populations.”
Through its investment in the Connect2Community Network, the Four Communities project will provide critical support to community health workers and other innovative work in South King County and build a lasting foundation for relationship-based, technology-enabled care coordination.
“Equity and access are foundational values to our work,” says Susan McLaughlin, CEO of HealthierHere. “We are grateful to Regence BlueShield for this generous support. It is innovative for a health plan to think more broadly about the health of communities, beyond just its members. These are the kinds of investments and cross-sector collaborations needed to make transformative changes to bridge health and human service sectors and truly address the needs of families and individuals most affected by health inequities.”
HealthierHere is a nonprofit collective impact organization dedicated to eliminating health disparities and improving the health and wellbeing of all people in King County, WA, through innovative, community-driven, cross-sector collaborations. Governed by a 27-seat cross-sector board and guided by community, HealthierHere partners with health providers, social service agencies, community organizations, and consumers to catalyze, facilitate and measure new and better ways to address health and social needs – so that all people can get the care they need, how and when they need it. For more information, please visit healthierehere.org.
About Connect2 Community Network
Connect2 Community Network is a unified community information exchange (CIE) being collaboratively developed by health and social service organizations in King County, WA. Community-owned and governed by a multi-sector Advisory Group, it is dedicated to reducing health disparities and improving outcomes. The network is building relationships and co-designing tools and policies to enable health, behavioral health, tribal, community and social service organizations to responsibly share information and coordinate services – so that no matter what door someone enters, they will receive the care and support they need to be healthy and thrive.
About Global to Local
Global to Local is a SeaTac-based nonprofit organization focused on ensuring equitable opportunities for people to lead healthy lives in under-resourced communities in south King County. Our mission is to advance health equity and improve health in U.S. communities through application of best practices from around the world. We develop programs and interventions to improve health, lower the cost of care, and empower underserved communities across the country. Communities affected by health disparities are diverse and include women, people of color, people experiencing poverty, immigrants and refugees. Disparities exist both in rural and urban spaces. Our objective is to adapt programs on a local level, share our learnings, and replicate our work across organizations and clinics nationwide.
About The YMCA of Greater Seattle
The Y is the Northwest’s leading nonprofit organization strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Founded in 1876, the Y reaches more than 238,000 people of all backgrounds, abilities, and financial circumstances annually through 14 branches, two overnight camps, and more than 200 program sites throughout King and south Snohomish counties. It nurtures more than 92,000 kids and teens to develop their gifts and give back to the community and engages 23,000 volunteers who contribute more than 388,000 hours of service each year. Visit seattleymca.org to learn more.
About Regence BlueShield
Regence BlueShield has been serving Washingtonians in select counties for over a century and now provides over 1.2 million people with comprehensive health insurance solutions. As a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Regence is part of a family of companies dedicated to transforming health care by delivering innovative products and services that change the way consumers nationwide experience health care. For more information, please visit regence.com, facebook.com/RegenceBlueShieldWA, or twitter.com/regencewa.