The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust

Pool Trust Awards New Grant to LVHN Department of Community Health

Allentown, PA: September 10, 2019: The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust has awarded a $1,538,749 grant to the Department of Community Health at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). The grant was awarded in April of 2019 and will run through June of 2020. The funding will support initiatives that address health issues of the region’s most vulnerable residents, with specific attention to the social determinants of health.

This grant will support LVHN’s Department of Community Health personnel and community partners working with the department including North Penn Legal Service and Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley. This support comes as LVHN extends its definition of health beyond the traditional health care delivery model in three specific areas of health surveillance, data analysis, and data sharing.

Since 2013, The Pool Trust has awarded the Department of Community Health at Lehigh Valley Health Network eleven grants, including the most recent, which total $8,695,505.

“The Pool Trust has great enthusiasm and hope for LVHN’s innovations to improve health at the community level. The current work will yield meaningful results in the future,” said Edward F. Meehan, MPH, Executive Director, The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust. “We congratulate our colleagues at LVHN for their success to date, and we stand ready to support their innovative efforts going forward.”

In the area of health surveillance, the Department of Community Health is responsible for completing the 2019 Community Health Profile that informs LVHN’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). Results from these reports continue to point back to the social determinants of health – the factors outside of clinical care that shape an individual’s health including housing, education, nutrition and food, and mental and social well-being. “Healthcare systems serve as an anchor in the community, providing healthcare, resources, and education to all individuals we serve. The reports and the data from these reports tell an important story about the health of our community and how we can best respond to and improve it,” explains Carmen Guzman-McLaughlin, MPH, Administrator, Department of Community Health at Lehigh Valley Health Network. “We have turned to this data to direct our community health focus.  At LVHN, we believe in the need to go upstream to address the health behaviors and social determinants of health that can have a negative impact on health over time, leading to the need for greater sick care, hospitalizations, medications, and emergency department utilization. We can generate far greater value for our investment in health by focusing on community-level factors in partnership with other leaders.”

A significant initiative to allow and promote data sharing is the Lehigh Valley Community Hub of the national Community Engagement Network that provides a central repository for publicly available data and resources in Lehigh and Northampton counties of Pennsylvania. The Hub provides private access to upload aggregated local data that can be shared with cross-sector partners working on various elements of complex social challenges. Examples of significant inroads made through data sharing are the Blue Guardian opioid program and suicide prevention programming in Lehigh County.

The Promise Neighborhood Community Survey is one effort in data analysis. The survey offers a community perspective of the assets and needs of the residents who reside around Center City and has provided information on health, education, social connection, public safety, food and housing. In addition, Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative (DACDI) has used data from the surveillance work to drive specific activities including affordable housing and education.

Other partnerships within the nutrition and food focus area are being developed. To date, there have been disparate activities addressing food insecurity and access in the community.  Various entities are engaged in school-based nutrition education and the provision of healthy meals to youth and seniors.  The Department of Community Health at LVHN is exploring the path to develop a cohesive strategy with organizations including Meals on Wheels, Sodexo, and the Kellyn Foundation to address nutrition and food in the community.

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.