The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed both critical gaps in our public health infrastructure for emergency response, as well as the stark underlying health inequities that place low-income and communities of color at greater risk. Everyone’s health outcomes are tied together, and we must address the root causes that lead to health inequities that make some communities more vulnerable not just to COVID-19, but other chronic conditions and public health threats.
Because local health departments work to support optimal population health, they are often focused on rectifying inequities so everyone has the opportunity and resources they need to be healthy. They move “beyond the clinical walls” with investment in community-based initiatives to improve the social determinants of health, such as racism, access to stable housing, transportation and good jobs. Innovative cross-sector partnerships between the public health, health care, and community development sector along with community partners are developing to support these innovative, non-traditional health interventions.
In June 2020, the Alliance released a comprehensive report outlining innovative multi-sector partnerships and innovative community investment models between public health, hospitals and health systems, community development, and other sectors that leverage resources and align investments to improve people’s health.
These innovative partnerships represent a major opportunity to increase much-needed investment in addressing the root causes of poor health. Health care systems are partnering with community development finance institutions to make investments in affordable housing and are issuing grants and low-interest loans in programs that support education, arts and culture, healthy food and other social determinants of Health. For example, Dignity Health and Kaiser Permanente are making large-scale capital investments in affordable housing, childcare centers, grocery stores, and Federally Qualified Health Centers.
The report was produced with our partners from the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) and its Communities Lifting Communities (CLC) community health initiative.