Health insurance coverage alone will not guarantee access to health care, particularly for those with low income, who, often disproportionately, are members of racial and ethnic minorities and highly reliant on our nation's safety net providers.1
Our Vision for Community Health Capacity in Western and Central New York
All communities are able to effectively plan for, and address, health needs of the most vulnerable and those in poverty.
The Health Foundation for Western and Central New York recognizes that the health and health care of frail elders and children in communities of poverty cannot improve without bolstering the communities within which they live and the health care systems that serve them. Programs funded through this focus area are designed to create a positive learning climate which fosters more effective and innovative organizations and individuals. They strive to increase and sustain collaborative activity, and foster communities and systems that improve health outcomes for the people they serve.
The Foundation has been funding Community Health Capacity work since its inception. Aligned with our other two focus areas, Older Adults and Young Children Impacted by Poverty, this work is designed to improve the overall capacity of the community to effectively address health issues.
Some of the challenges addressed through our work to strengthen Community Health Capacity are:
• With the economic downturn, increasing numbers of uninsured people, decreasing Medicaid budgets, and shortage of primary care providers, the squeeze on the health care safety net continuously tightens.
• The poor health status of people living in our regions, the variable quality of care provided and the unsustainable cost of that care all need to be addressed in a coordinated, collaborative way that is grounded in the needs of the people and communities we serve.
• People must become more actively involved in their care and need help in understanding how to live with chronic disease, how to navigate an increasingly complex care system and advocate for what they and their families need to be healthy.
Community Leadership and Collaborations
The Health Leadership Fellows program is designed to expand a network of skilled leaders that will learn to lead collaboratively from both within and outside of their organizations and become advocates for improved health care delivery, particularly for the frail elderly and children living in communities of poverty. Ninety-nine Health Leadership Fellows, in three cohorts, graduated from the original program that began in 2005 and ended in 2009. The program was re-launched in 2012, with a fourth cohort and fifth cohort now underway.
The Fellows Action Network was formed by the graduates of the first three cohorts of the Health Leadership Fellows Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Ladder to Leaders Program to be a vehicle for community health leaders to work collaboratively to improve care for seniors and children as well as collectively tackle other critical health issues. Future graduates of the Health Leadership Fellows program will become members of the Fellows Action Network.
As health and human services agencies in our communities face a growing number of changes, the Health Foundation is providing an array of support to organizations that provide direct services to our target populations:
Following Ready or Not, the Health Foundation, along with The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation and The John R. Oishei Foundation, are helping select organizations prepare for and respond to a rapidly changing fiscal environment with a capacity building initiative, GetSET (Success in Extraordinary Times).
Health Care Safety-Net
The newest WNY and CNY Primary Care Safety Net Assessments provide information on the capacity and strength of the existing primary care system and give recommendations to consider as our regions move forward in order to take advantage of the dramatic changes happening in our health care system.
1 Health Care Safety Net, Background brief. Kaiser Family Foundation: