Community Health Partners Launch ConnectRx Wisconsin, a Care Coordination System Focused on Black Women

The Dane County Health Council (DCHC), Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness (FBWW), and numerous community health partners held a press conference Thursday afternoon at FBWW headquarters on the west side of Madison to announce the launch of ConnectRx Wisconsin, a giant step forward. improve health outcomes for black women, birth attendants and babies.

“We’re proud to demonstrate through ConnectRx how systems, Black women and communities can work together to reinvent, rebuild and implement new solutions that we believe will move the needle in ending racial disparities. at birth,” said Lisa Peyton-Caire, Founder. , CEO and President of the Black Women’s Welfare Foundation at the press conference. “And we want to see this effort grow and succeed. We think this is a model that can really spread to communities in Wisconsin, across our state.

ConnectRx Wisconsin is a new care coordination system that helps pregnant Black women and people giving birth gain better access to health care and family stabilization resources that address potentially unmet social needs such as food, financial assistance, housing, employment and transportation. It is designed to reduce the incidence of low birth weight and improve birth outcomes for Black women, birth attendants and babies in Dane County.

(Lr) Shiva Bidar, Annette Miller, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Lisa Peyton Cairo and Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway (photo by David Dahmer)

Senator Tammy Baldwin told the audience at the press conference that she was proud to join everyone at the event during Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17).

“ConnectRx will meet the critical needs of this community. Wisconsin unfortunately continues to have one of the nation’s worst records for black infant mortality, and African Americans in our state still experience worse health and mental health outcomes than any other group. said Baldwin. “In Dane County. babies born to black mothers are twice as likely to be born with low birth weight as babies born to white mothers. And this disparity not only threatens the lives of children, but also puts them at increased risk for significant health and developmental problems.

“The ConnectRx program’s comprehensive care coordination model understands that there are many social determinants in a person’s health and well-being,” she added. “Across many disjointed health and social service systems, ConnecRX will help bridge these gaps and connect Black mothers to the resources they need to improve their health outcomes. I am thrilled to provide a $3 million investment and play a part in this transformative program to improve equity in our community.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway
(Photo by David Dahmer)

The launch of the system was led by the Dane County Health Council, the Foundation, its project partner EQT By Design and several other key partners. DCHC is a coalition of health care providers, governments, and nonprofit organizations whose mission is to eliminate gaps and barriers to optimal health and to reduce disparities in health outcomes across the Dane County. Board members include Access Community Health Centers, Black Maternal and Child Health Alliance and Group Health Cooperative of South Central.

“This is a mission of many, many years to improve health outcomes for Black women, birth attendants and babies and we have what I think is a really innovative part of the solution – a system that will provide the tools needed to ensure frontline staff are able to connect families with the resources they need,” said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “Not just to improve their health , but to better control their health outcomes.

“So thank you to the Black Women’s Welfare Foundation for not only doing this incredible work, but all the incredible work that you do,” she added. “We know the need is really great, especially here in Dane County and Madison. We all know the disparities and the statistics and how critical they are.

In 2018, DCHC commissioned the Foundation and EQT By Design, a Madison company founded by Annette Miller with a background in strategic consulting and planning, to lead a community engagement effort that specifically centered Black women and members. community to weigh in on the issue. Over a nine-month period, they engaged more than 300 black community members and service providers in Dane County to identify the root causes of these disparities as well as solutions to improve black birth outcomes in the county.

The groundbreaking Saving Our Babies report was the culmination of all this work and shed light on the stress caused by economic insecurity, racism and prejudice in the daily experiences of Black women and families, as well as community health. disconnected and difficult to navigate. services.

“As Lisa explained earlier, our partners gathered here today are committed to using ConnectRx and caring for Black people giving birth and their families in our community. When we speak with our patients and clients, we will use screening questions to see if they are negatively affected by social determinants of health like access to healthy food and safe housing,” said Dr. Ken Loving, CEO of Access Community Health Centers. . “We will then offer these patients this connection with community health workers and support services to help them meet their needs. We work specifically to support black families because they have higher rates of low birth weight babies and infant mortality in the first year of life. Our state in our county has some of the worst disparities in the country. And this cannot continue.

“We consider it our responsibility to work with the communities we serve to create the best health outcomes possible. We understand that food, transportation, housing and economic stability are key factors in health and well-being,” he continued. “We are committed to working beyond the four walls of our hospitals and clinics to ensure patients have access to needed resources. We understand that racism is a public health crisis and has contributed to marginalization and inequitable access to health care and other resources.

Dr. Ken Loving, CEO of Access Community Health Centers

Loving added that instead of acting as individual health systems in this effort, “we are acting collectively.”

“We will combine our knowledge in the areas of research, clinical delivery systems, workforce and technology to advance this effort and improve care and outcomes for Black families and their babies,” did he declare. “Our work together will ensure that a single ConnectRx Wisconsin system is in place to seamlessly connect patients to local community support services that can meet their needs. ConnectRx is a key step in our journey to improve the health and lives of Black families.

Dr. Tiffany Green

Access Community Health Centers, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, SSM Health, UnityPoint Health – Meriter, and UW Health are invested in ConnectRx and have implemented the tool and will facilitate referrals and follow-ups with their patients.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be here today to celebrate a revolutionary change, a revolutionary paradigm shift,” said Dr. Tiffany Green, Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics and in gynecology at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and co-chair of the Black Maternal & Child Health Alliance of Dane County. “This is a program and this is a process that will center the lives of black women and birth attendants in Dane County on solving our persistent and frankly shameful disparities in birth outcomes.”

ConnectRx is powered by tools developed by Verona-based healthcare software giant Epic Systems. It includes a screening process used by several Dane County health systems to identify medical and non-medical patient needs, a community workforce dedicated to connecting patients with local resources, and technology for coordination and orientation of shared care.

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