Population Health is Not a New Concept

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , June 26, 2013

CHIP has successfully improved food security in the area and increased community awareness of sweetened beverages as part of its goal to lower childhood obesity. CHIP directed a community-wide falls prevention program for the elderly in addition to advance directive education and end of life planning to name a few. CHIP has also been involved with local and international mission activities. St. Joseph's Hospital is the primary funding source for CHIP although local, state and federal grant monies are actively sought and successfully secured."

Brown says CHIP was able to make this happen because it remains focused, inclusive, and structured but not rigid. All of this is accomplished with a budget of around $150,000 and a tiny staff.

"My 'staff' is me, and just recently the hospital was able to give me a half-time staff person," Brown says. "As much as we hate to think about it, you have to keep sustainability in mind. You have to be creative. You have to create an atmosphere of acceptance. You have to be open to other people's ideas and to their creativity and allow anybody and everybody who wants to be a part of it. Everybody has a stake in this game."

"When I started, my budget was probably $30,000, which is like next to nothing, but you can do a lot of stuff on a very small budget if you have community support. A lot of it has to do with how your staff is able to communicate with and network with other people. That means establishing good relationships and partnerships with the other agencies and organizations in our community. You have to nurture those relationships and give and take. When someone calls and needs me to be on a committee, I try to do that even if I don't have any extra time. If I do that, then they are much more likely to help me out." Brown says it's hard to estimate an exact return on investment for the various services CHIP offers. "We started providing free mental health services for patients that are at free clinics that we helped found along with their community agencies and individuals," she says.

"Since June 2011 we have provided 627 counseling sessions free to people in our community. Those are individuals that probably would not be seen anywhere else. So it is hard to put a price tag on what that has meant for those people but I think it is safe to say that we probably made a pretty huge impact by putting that program together."

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