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
People and communities have what they need to make good health decisions and are supported by high quality, appropriate health care.
The Health Foundation for Western and Central New York (formerly the Community Health Foundation of 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, Frail Elders and Young Children Living in 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.
Several foundation projects focus on helping our health care and social service organizations to better understand and build the skills and culture needed to improve the quality of the care and services they provide. Offered in each region, these projects range from teaching the fundamentals of Quality Improvement to hundreds of Western New Yorkers to offering targeted training for long term providers to broadcasting national conferences for QI staff in our communities.
Health Care Safety-Net
The WNY Health Care Safety-net project enables the providers of primary care safety net services to better serve at risk families and children, through collaborative efforts that improve access, improve quality of care, increase revenue and foster efficiencies.
Community Leadership and Collaborations
The Fellows Action Network was formed by the more than 100 graduates 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.
Other Current Projects:
Ready or Not, Here it Comes: Preparing for Success in Rapidly Changing Times
Geriatric Workforce Initiative: Preparing health professionals to meet the unique needs of western and central New York’s growing geriatric population
Neighborhood Action Initiative: Helping elders age and thrive in their own communities
Improving Quality Improvement (IQI) in central New York
Southern Finger Lakes Fund
1 Health Care Safety Net, Background brief. Kaiser Family Foundation: