Innovative initiative to address health disparities in North Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA, PA — January 24, 2020 — Project HOME, Independence Blue Cross (Independence), and AmeriHealth Caritas announce the launch of “Keystone Connection to Wellness.” This new initiative will address the significant health disparities in life expectancy and infant mortality experienced by North Philadelphia residents.
Recognizing that health needs of economically distressed neighborhoods cannot only be met through the doctor’s office, Independence, Project HOME, and AmeriHealth Caritas are creating the initiative to connect Project HOME patients with resources beyond their immediate medical needs.
“We’ve always had an approach of treating the whole person at our Stephen Klein Wellness Center and Healthcare Services,” said Project HOME President and Executive Director Sister Mary Scullion. “This partnership with Independence and AmeriHealth Caritas allows us to reach more people and impact so many lives.”
Project HOME, with financial and operational support from Independence and AmeriHealth Caritas, will work with other social service and health organizations to form a robust association of services to address social determinants of health. Project HOME will also launch and facilitate a community advisory board to help guide priorities and build on neighborhood strengths focused on improving health and quality of life for residents who live in two targeted zip codes of North Philadelphia.
“We cannot tackle the difficult task of improving the health of people in our region without a team effort. That is why we are so pleased to work with Project HOME to address directly the health disparities in North Philadelphia. By engaging with the community and providing information and access to much-needed services, we believe that this initiative can address health issues before they become dire,” said Daniel J. Hilferty, Independence Blue Cross CEO.
Three North Philadelphia Project HOME locations will serve as hubs for “Keystone Connection to Wellness”: the Stephen Klein Wellness Center, Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs, and the Helen Brown Community Center — but outreach could extend to libraries and other points of contact.
Residents of the targeted ZIP codes, 19121 and 19132, experience shorter life expectancy (roughly 69 years vs. 75.5 for the city and 78.8 years for the nation) and higher infant mortality rates (13.1 deaths per 1,000, 56 percent greater than the city as a whole, and 126 percent above the national rate). More than 45 percent of people in these zip codes live at or below the poverty line, compared to approximately 26 percent in Philadelphia.
“There are too many people and communities that face significant, and often crippling, health disparities because of gaps in access to the social determinants of health, like jobs, affordable housing, and nutritious food, and support networks” said AmeriHealth Caritas Chairman and CEO Paul A. Tufano. “By building strong coalitions between business and community organizations to bridge those gaps, as we’re doing with Project HOME, we can help our most vulnerable citizens find pathways to prosperity and independence.”
“Keystone Connection to Wellness” will rely on the input of the community advisory board to help find the most appropriate ways to disrupt the connection between poverty and these health disparities. Improved health outcomes depend on related services like affordable childcare, food security, transportation, housing, behavioral health services and employment opportunities. This initiative will expand access to these types of services.
It is expected that approximately 1,250 people in North Philadelphia could be positively impacted by the initiative during the first year. The initiative will track and report on progress of a pilot group of residents to be defined in a project plan.
About Project HOME
Since 1989, Project HOME has helped thousands of people break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by providing a continuum of care that includes street outreach, supportive housing and comprehensive services that focus on health care, education and employment through both adult and youth education and enrichment programs at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs and community-based health care services at the Stephen Klein Wellness Center and three satellite locations. Project HOME and its partners have pledged to end chronic street homelessness in Philadelphia. To learn more, visit www.projecthome.org.
About AmeriHealth Caritas
AmeriHealth Caritas is one of the nation’s leaders in health care solutions for those most in need. Operating in 11 states and the District of Columbia, AmeriHealth Caritas serves more than 5 million Medicaid, Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) members through its integrated managed care products, pharmaceutical benefit management and specialty pharmacy services, and behavioral health services. Headquartered in Philadelphia, AmeriHealth Caritas is a mission-driven organization with more than 35 years of experience serving low-income and chronically ill populations. For more information, visit www.amerihealthcaritas.com.
Project HOME contact:
Independence Blue Cross contact: