Since June 2014, Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Health Centers has partnered with Health Leads in an effort to connect patients with access to basic resources that impact health, such as food and housing. “How is the integration of social needs going?” asks NEJM Catalyst Founding Advisor Tom Lee of Contra Costa’s CEO, Anna Roth. “How does it look? What’s actually happening?”
Roth shares an example: an elderly patient who complained of being cold and short of breath, and who was coughing. The physician’s immediate response was to check for pneumonia, but it turned out that she only had a chronic cough — and no heat at home. The physician wrote a prescription and sent the patient and her family to the Health Leads desk for an energy subsidy, and within that week, the heat turned back on.
“To the providers, that feels like such a burden lifted off of them,” says Roth. “We can give insulin. We can’t give proper nutrition.” Things are going well [at Contra Costa], notes Roth. But, she adds, “We’re not doing it enough. We’re not doing it in every site. So until this becomes part of the norm, it’s not enough.”
From the NEJM Catalyst event Care Redesign: Creating the Future of Care Delivery at Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health, September 30, 2015.