New ACHIP Program to Improve Health of Children and Pregnant Women in Downtown Allentown

Collective Impact being used to align health network with regional nonprofit agency

The health and wellbeing of children and pregnant women in Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) is the focus of a new healthcare initiative launched May 1.

The Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project (ACHIP) has been launched thanks to a $1.91 million, 30-month grant from The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust. Using a collective impact model, the new program brings together Lehigh Valley Health Network’s (LVHN) Department of Community Health and Women and Children’s services along with the Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital and the Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley (PNLV) in a partnership.

The program’s primary goal is to improve the health of pregnant women and young children in Center City Allentown through home visits for early intervention. A staff of bilingual community health workers from the neighborhood surrounding the NIZ will operate out of PNLV’s Allentown Promise Neighborhood (APN) office in downtown Allentown. APN will use its strong relationship with downtown residents to connect parents with young children and pregnant women to the ACHIP services. The health workers will be embedded in the community they serve in order to better cultivate relationships with residents, leading to trust of the local healthcare system, which is a critical component to the program’s success with this at-risk population.

“ACHIP has three components: home-based assessments and connecting using community health workers; a community-based LVHN/APN partnership that will improve children’s health one child and family at a time; and a data-driven and informed dialogue of community partners on what we can do collectively to improve the health and wellbeing of children long term,” said Nate Hagstrom, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at LVHN.

“Bringing medical services to those who need it the most in our community is exactly what Leonard Parker Pool had in mind when he established The Trust 40 years ago,” said Edward F. Meehan, M.P.H., Executive Director of The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust. “The ACHIP program is using an innovative community partnership approach with family-centered assessments and targeted connections and interventions to improve the health of this vulnerable population. Its focus is on the child as the critical link to the future health and wellbeing of populations.”

“We are excited that this new venture will enable us to better address the social and health needs of families with young children in our community by providing services outside of the clinic walls,” said Samantha Goodrich, Ph.D., Senior Research and Evaluation Scientist, LVHN’s Department of Community Health. “It will also provide new opportunities to strengthen and grow our partnerships with other agencies serving our community so that we may collectively support families and maximize the resources available to all the families we serve.”

“Every Promise Neighborhood is built on nine promises, one of which is that students and families are healthy,” said Yamil Sanchez Rivera, Ed.D., Executive Director of PNLV. “When this opportunity was presented for our Allentown Promise Neighborhood, we jumped on board because it perfectly aligns with our nonprofit organization’s mission and goals. For varied reasons, many of our neighborhood residents are challenged to meet their medical, dental, and/or mental health needs. The ACHIP program’s approach of using community health workers from the neighborhood to build trusting relationships is the best way to get residents the preventative medical attention they need.”

Established in 1975 by Leonard Parker Pool, The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust serves as a resource that enables Lehigh Valley Health Network to be a superior regional hospital and improve the health of the citizens of the region it serves. Its focused areas of program support include Community Engagement, Primary Care/Community-Based Workforce Development, and Care System Redesign. www.PoolTrust.org

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