By Michele Mercer, RN, MSHA

The mission of Millennium is to be a partner with physicians, healthcare providers, and community-based organizations (CBOs) to support the implementation of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program projects designed to positively impact Medicaid patients across the eight counties of Western New York (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming).

Millennium’s projects were specifically chosen based on data collected during the 2014 WNY Community Needs Assessment (CNA), which prioritizes regional health needs.

Millennium Collaborative Care’s community engagement vision is to promote and empower the WNY community by engaging local, state, regional, and community partners through activities, resources, and linkages to improve health and wellness.

Community Engagement is the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or similar situations affecting their well-being. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships and serve as a catalyst for changing policy, programs and practices (CDC, 2011).

Community engagement is a valuable component of health system transformation and clinical integration. An effective community engagement strategy (including both CBOs and public sector agencies) must be dynamic, adaptive, and evolve as partnerships are strengthened and new relationships are forged. It is an ongoing, cumulative process enabling partners to build trusting relationships with a unified focus of healthcare and health promotion.

Millennium currently has relationships with more than 135 CBOs and 25 public sector agencies.

Millennium leverages the experience of key stakeholders and partners, along with evidence-based community engagement strategies, to identify best practices of consumer and community engagement. Because Millennium serves a wide and diverse area, it is imperative to reach out to members of each community served.

In addition, the vast differences among communities and community members are taken into consideration. Millennium’s approach is inclusive, utilizing Medicaid recipients and community residents as active participants in meetings and on committees.

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Image caption: Millennium’s Million Hearts® program facilitated by University at Buffalo School of Nursing students engaged parishioners from Friendship Baptist Church this summer.

These key stakeholders help transform healthcare and are ultimately the people who are the primary gatekeepers of their healthcare. Examples of Millennium community engagement activities to date include:

  • Faith-Based Organizations: Launched at the end of 2015, Millennium kicked off a collaborative effort between Greater Buffalo United Ministries (GRUM), a network of 56 churches and a member of the CBO Task Force, and the University at Buffalo School of Nursing to carry out a community-based cardiovascular health initiative, Million Hearts (project 3.b.i.). To date, seven health screening events have been hosted, reaching over 200 attendees who have been screened for Blood Pressure and Body Mass Index (BMI).
  • Looking immediately ahead, upcoming Million Hearts® Screening Events are planned for Sat., Nov. 12 at the American Diabetes Association Summit – 4 PM – 6 PM – Millennium Hotel on Walden Ave.; and Mon., Nov. 14 at the Enterprise Charter School – 5 PM – 7:30 PM – Oak and Genesee St. Lastly, as a part of this initiative, Millennium also intends to establish regional faith-based advisory groups in each of the sub-regions in WNY and has already begun this process in the Southern Tier.
  • Law Enforcement: In 2016 Millennium established a partnership with community police officers (CPOs) in Erie County, supporting and participating in their spring/summer open house events for the communities they serve. Millennium will also be presenting “DSRIP 101” presentations and updates at CPOs’ monthly/quarterly meetings. Engagement is currently being expanded to include other counties as we develop and build relationships.
  • Housing Providers: Several organizations that provide housing or services for the homeless are engaged as members of the CBO Task Force. The Homeless Alliance of Western New York, representing more than 40 different agencies across five counties, is investigating opportunities to partner with Millennium on several projects including Patient Activation Measure® (PAM®) which seeks to identify the motivations of recipients (uninsured, non and under-utilizing populations) to seek healthcare. The PAM® Team is also identifying Medicaid consumers who are either uninsured and/or have not seen a doctor in two years, and helping them get connected with a Primary Care Physician.
  • County Governments: Partners from the eight counties of WNY are engaged in face-to-face “community conversations” raising awareness about opiate use/abuse. This initiative began with a “Buffalo Health Matters” event hosted at Bennett High School in May 2016. The next ‘Community Conversation on Preventing Mental Health Disorders and Substance Abuse in Young Women’ will be Thurs., Nov. 10 from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at Abate Elementary School in Niagara Falls.
  • County Mental Health Departments are implementing evidence-based programs from New York State Prevention Agenda in schools (as part of project 4.a.i., Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Well-Being in Communities).
  • County Departments of Health: Millennium has and will continue to engage in a series of informational and activation workshops with the Western New York Public Health Alliance, an organization of the leadership from each county’s Department of Health. Millennium’s Chief Medical Officer Anthony J. Billittier IV, MD, FACEP serves as the primary liaison to this group of physicians.

Please note: future CBO Task Force meetings will be on the 2nd Wednesday of every third month, at 2:30 PM as follows:

2:30 PM – Dec 14, 2016
2:30 PM – March 8, 2017

For further information, please contact:
Rachel N. Laster, Community Outreach Coordinator
Office: 716-898-1966
Cell: 716-812-1577


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The Erie County Medical Center Corporation (ECMCC) is the parent organization of Millennium Collaborative Care

Millennium Collaborative Care

1461 Kensington Ave
Buffalo, NY, 14215

t:  716-898-5389

© Millennium Collaborative Care.