Reducing Health Disparities to Help Kids Thrive
March 3, 2021
Here, we believe that all children should have an equal opportunity for a healthy future.
Diversity, health equity, and inclusion are an integral part of Children’s Hospital Colorado’s mission. We advocate for the well-being of all kids, and today we are working to transform children’s health beyond the walls of our clinical settings.
Studies show that only about 20 percent of a child’s overall health is attributable to their medical care, while around 80 percent is shaped by factors such as school, housing, income level, neighborhood, and lifestyle.
With a bold vision to support healthier kids and communities, Children’s Colorado is changing the way we deliver care to account for the complex social inequities and environmental factors that influence a child’s overall health and quality of life. We are joining forces with like-minded organizations to meet families where they are — namely in their homes and schools — and addressing the underlying causes of poor health through education, resources, advocacy and community support.
With the help of donors, Children’s Colorado is tackling health disparities head on, so that all children – no matter what their background or where they live – can have the same opportunities for a healthy, hopeful future.
Meeting families where they are
The future of pediatric health care depends on how we support the whole picture of a child’s well-being. At no point in our history has this work felt more urgent, when children from historically underserved communities are experiencing poorer health than their more affluent peers – and the gap is growing.
Generous donors enable Children’s Colorado to reach kids where they live, learn and play, so we can tackle the systemic inequities that lead to poor health outcomes. With your support, we’re developing and testing innovative prevention and outreach programs that help to keep kids healthy and out of the hospital.
Impacting kids’ health in their homes and schools is an ambitious endeavor, and we can’t do it alone. That’s why Children’s Colorado is partnering with local organizations that know their communities best. Together, we are providing services that emphasize prevention and help to address issues like food insecurity, lack of housing and access to health care.
“Philanthropic support is helping Children’s Colorado develop robust alliances so that, together, we can meet the comprehensive care needs of children and youth while generating meaningful and sustained wellness,” said Heidi Baskfield, Vice President of Population Health at Children’s Colorado.
Prevention and outreach activities aren’t typically supported by traditional health insurance models. Your support is essential to establishing the partnerships and programs that transform the way we deliver care, so we can improve the lifelong health trajectories of children across the region.
Thanks to donors like you, our visionary prevention and outreach programs are impacting kids and communities in extraordinary ways.
How donors make a difference
Here are three examples of ways that donors are helping to address health disparities and connect families to the resources they need to thrive.
Children’s Colorado is leading the way in integrating holistic social services within a medical care setting. Five years ago, we instituted psychosocial screenings at our well-child visits. Of the patient families who completed the survey, about 20% reported struggles related to finances, public benefits assistance, food insecurity and other issues. In 2017, we took our proactive approach a step further by launching a new role: the Community Health Navigator. Our team of navigators meets one-one-one with patients and families, helping them to address immediate needs and access clinical, financial or social supports. Last year, Community Health Navigators served more than 5,000 patient families, and surveys showed that they helped to resolve around 75% of their resource needs.
Our aspirations go beyond our walls, though. Children’s Colorado is now designing a five-year pilot program to place Community Health Navigators in primary care practices around the state, which will exponentially increase the number of families we can serve. Supporting families with add-on social services means that we can have a stronger and more consistent impact on overall child health and well-being.
Food insecurity has become a growing challenge, with around 30% of Coloradans struggling with hunger. Five years ago, Children’s Colorado convened a Food Security Council with a bold goal to give the state’s vulnerable children access to timely, quality and affordable food. Since then, we have partnered with other organizations to establish a hospital-based food clinic, Healthy Roots, which now serves about 50 families per week.
Children’s Colorado also established its very own community garden on the Anschutz Medical Campus, which produces around 1,500 pounds of produce annually for the food clinic. And when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools in 2020, Children’s Colorado quickly launched a mobile grocery distribution service in partnership with Aurora Public Schools, distributing food to more than 14,000 families. Moving forward, we plan to partner with Aurora Public Schools to pilot food clinics in targeted school-based health centers. Funded by philanthropy, these important initiatives give families critical access to the nutrition they need to be healthy.
Many kids who are treated for asthma also face significant health barriers, including housing, food and financial challenges. Recognizing that asthma cannot be treated solely in a clinical setting, Children’s Colorado launched new programs and partnerships to reach families in their communities. For example, our asthma team offers home visits to teach families how to administer asthma medication and to identify potential asthma triggers, like mold or dirty air vents. The program then connects families to resources and products to create a healthier home. Another program provides asthma outreach and education in local schools to empower kids to better manage their condition. Data show that kids who participate in these programs had fewer asthma-related trips to the emergency room. In fact, the program has been so successful that the Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized Children’s Colorado with a National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management.