Social determinants of health are the conditions in the environment that affect our ongoing health. Having adequate and affordable housing, access to fresh foods, and a safe environment are only a few of the social determinants that contribute to our wellbeing. Consumer Health Coalition is working to address social determinants of health in several ways.
Housing is a key determinant of health. Consumer Health Coalition serves on the leadership council and actively participates in work group activities of H2 Allegheny County. The H2 Leadership Council is made up of key stakeholders who actively partner to build a housing and healthcare system that improves outcomes for individuals who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness.
Addressing health-related needs of people who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness has long been recognized as a key component of efforts to prevent and end homelessness. People who are homeless are at higher risk for poor health. Homelessness is also correlated with high health care costs. Permanent supportive housing improves health outcomes and reduces health care costs.
H2 Priorities include:
- Integrating housing, health, and other services for housing retention and ongoing wellness.
- Improve access to and utilization of services and treatment.
- Maximize use of Medicaid and other existing resources to support housing access, retention, and stability.
- Developing data-driven service interventions.
Consumer Health Coalition collaborates with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Just Harvest to address food insecurity. Our outreach and enrollment staff regularly visits local food pantries, Produce to People distribution sites, and free meal programs to meet consumers who may need to enroll in health insurance. Providing on-the-spot enrollments, or enrolling consumers via phone after food distributions, has been a highly successful way to reach the uninsured.
The Consumer Health Coalition cross-refers individuals for SNAP, WIC, and free school breakfast programs, and in turn partner agencies use our referral process to connect consumers in need of healthcare to us.
Sixteen million US children (21%) live in households without consistent access to adequate food. The American Academy of Pediatrics has established screening guidelines to identify families who are at risk of food insecurity. The Consumer Health Coalition and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank are working together to educate local pediatricians and to encourage them to incorporate the screening tool in their daily practice.
We offer pediatrician offices resources to utilize when they identify families at risk of food insecurity. We also meet with school district and superintendents to promote the free school breakfast program and ensuring that all kids have health coverage. Together we work to tackle both issues and support policies that protect the funding for these programs.