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Daily Camera: BCH launches health care program to serve vulnerable groups

  • Category: General, Foundation
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  • Written By: Boulder Community Health
Daily Camera: BCH launches health care program to serve vulnerable groups

The Daily Camera shares about the new $155,000 grant from the Boulder Community Health Foundation called Project HEALS, which aims to reduce health inequities by increasing access to continuity of care.

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Boulder Community Health launches health care program to serve vulnerable groups


May 3, 2023 at 10:00 p.m.

Boulder Community Health announced it has launched a new health care program whose goal is to increase access to services and reduce health inequities for vulnerable patients.

The new program, called Project HEALS (Health Equity in Achieving Long-term Solutions), is designed to provide continuity of care services for complex case patients who face social and economic barriers to accessing health care, including patients experiencing homelessness, behavioral health conditions, traumatic brain injuries, dementia and substance use disorders. Grant funding for the program has been provided by the BCH Foundation.

“We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to reach their full health potential, both physically and mentally,” said Riley Bright, a program officer for the BCH Foundation. “And so really, what we’re talking about is supporting health equity and social determinants of health where we can for BCH and also within the community.”

Bright said the program is geared toward patients who have historically received less support from health care systems since a lack of accessible care can affect health outcomes for these groups. Specifically, Project HEALS aims to fill a gap in existing health care for vulnerable patients who go to the hospital for an acute health need, then recover to the point where they no longer need hospitalization, but still need some level of care.

“The reality is just because someone’s ready to be discharged from the hospital doesn’t mean they’re ready to be discharged without any further care,” said Bright. “And so this really opens up sort of a post-acute care option for people whose … insurance or financial system situation doesn’t allow them to access it otherwise.”

One pillar of the program will include partnering with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to offer post-acute care at the Coalition’s new respite facility in Denver for patients with insecure housing who are leaving BCH. For patients who have stable housing but are experiencing other barriers to accessing care, Project HEALS will provide private caregivers to patients for a limited time.

Madelyn Hunt, who manages the case management department at BCH, said complex-case patients who lack a viable or safe discharge plan often end up staying at the hospital for longer than necessary, which can increase the risk of adverse health effects such as pressure injuries, loss of mobility and hospital-induced delirium.

“The goal of Project HEALS is to increase the efficiency of the patient flow for the hospital, to maximize hospital resources, and also enhance the quality of patient care here,” Hunt said. “So, ultimately, what we’re doing is leveraging Project HEALS as a tool to facilitate timely discharges for what we would call complex cases.”

But Hunt emphasized that, while the program can address gaps in care in the short term, more work will be needed to address the root systemic causes of inequities in health care.

“It’s very clear that this (program) is just going to be a immediate solution to existing barriers that need to be addressed in a more systematic level,” said Hunt. “But, ultimately, from our case managers’ perspective, we just want to be able to identify how we can connect these individuals with the resources, regardless of their economic status, social situation, or the systematic barriers that have been put in place.”

Both Hunt and Bright expressed optimism about the program, however, and said they were glad to be a part of it.

“The Foundation is in a unique position to be able to support BCH in finding these partnerships and funding the sort of programs which go, perhaps, above and beyond what health care systems typically have in the past. And it’s a really exciting opportunity,” Bright said.