From the Buffalo Business First:

Updated: Jun 15, 2017, 2:43pm EDT

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is working to bring together community groups and health providers to provide better planning and communication and ultimately improve access to health care.

The hospital on Wednesday brought together more than 100 individuals to hear more about the creation of the coalition, dubbed the Niagara Community Partnership Project. The initiative will focus on building relationships to improve the level of care coordination between health care providers and community agencies.

The Niagara Community Partnership Project will focus on building relationships to improve the level of care coordination between health care providers and community agencies.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center

It’s an extension of sorts of the hospital’s health home program, which links patients to partner service providers throughout the community. This effort, however, is geared more toward improving referrals between agencies, as well as updating others on client progress and better coordination.

The event kicked off with a keynote by Paul Hogan, executive vice president for the John R. Oishei Foundation, who talked bluntly to participants about their willingness to connect with other professionals to create a meaningful coalition. He challenged the participants to determine their WIIFM, or “what’s in it for me.”

“I’d say that right now, no one in this room is willing to take on another coalition, in fact, most of you are probably downright unwilling and grumpy at the thought,” he said. “For the great expectations assigned to coalitions, success or failure or stagnation almost always comes down to the people who are there and how they interact.”

He also talked about how nonprofits function differently from private companies, with a goal of restoring or helping to generate whatever people need to improve their lives or the community in which they live, usually over the long term. Working together in a coalition, he said, leads to new ideas, and often additional funding.

“We play off each others’ ideas, find new approaches,” he said. “It’s never a waste of time to talk to people who are your colleagues.”

Hogan’s comments were followed by an intro from Sheila Kee, chief operating officer at Niagara Falls Memorial, who spoke to the group about the importance of the task ahead, highlighting the changes coming to health care policy from the federal level that will likely lead to less funding and greater numbers of uninsured people who need services.

“This not only impacts health insurance, but also anti-poverty programs that have been around for many, many years,” she said.

Kee encouraged the participants to control their own destiny before someone else does.

“Let’s not sit back and wait for the ax to fall. Let’s get a head start on how we deliver care and services to make sure people don’t fall between the cracks,” she said. “We are asking all of you today: How can we develop a community of care where community providers, neighborhood-based organizations and service organizations become intimately involved in the planning and delivery of care.”

A series of breakout sessions followed, giving the participants a change to get to know each other better and brainstorm how to formulate individual care plans for clients and how to build connections between service lines. A lunchtime program included an update on building a care community by executives from Millennium Collaborative Care, a state-funded Medicaid reform group that works to reduce hospitalization and readmissions.

Kee said the goal is to create an ongoing dialogue with the partners to help improve care in the future.

“We’re reaching out now so we have partnerships in place,” she said. “This is getting people to think about why we need to do this.”

Tracey Drury covers health/medical and nonprofits



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