November 14, 2012 at 08:30 AM EST
United Health Foundation Awards $1 Million to Support Jefferson Reaves, Sr. Health Center in Miami

United Health Foundation today announced $1 million in renewed funding to help the Jefferson Reaves, Sr. Health Center improve health care quality and access in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood.

The gift renewal – which marks a total of $8,975,000 committed since 2004 – is provided through the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and is aimed at addressing some of the area’s most serious health issues, including diabetes and related risk factors like obesity, inadequate physical activity and unhealthy dietary behaviors.

The community served by the Jefferson Reaves, Sr. Health Center is disproportionately affected by type 2 diabetes and at high risk for complications associated with the disease, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, loss of limbs and death. The funding helps the center to expand its primary care capacity and provide patients with a comprehensive, team-based approach to chronic disease management.

“We’re helping patients in this high-risk community receive the comprehensive medical care, knowledge and mental health services they need to improve diabetes outcomes and potentially improve quality of life for themselves and their families,” said John G. Ryan, Dr.P.H., director of the United Health Foundation-funded program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “Thanks to support from United Health Foundation, we can continue to do what is clearly making a difference for patients: improving outcomes, preventing hospitalizations and helping patients to be engaged in self-managing their disease.”

Services supported by the funding include: diabetes clinical management; medical nutrition therapy; physical activity; diabetes education; mental health support; depression management; social services and more. These services are delivered in a patient-centered manner that is based on Family Medicine and public health models, and the goal is to build and sustain strong relationships between care providers and patients, and to help patients learn how to self-manage their health.

“I applaud United Health Foundation and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine for their collaborative efforts to help Jefferson Reaves, Sr. Health Center improve health care for thousands of people in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood,” said Florida Representative Cynthia A. Stafford (D-Miami). “Having access to high-quality, affordable care regardless of income and age makes a critical difference in people’s health and has far-reaching benefits for the livelihood our communities.”

United Health Foundation has provided the funding to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine since 2004 to support the university’s efforts at the Jefferson Reaves clinic as part of the Foundation’s Community Health Centers of Excellence initiative. The Jefferson Reaves, Sr. Health Center is an outpatient, primary care practice managed by Jackson Health Systems that serves more than 6,000 people each year. Over the last decade, the clinic has had a strong impact in the community.

The gift comes at a critical time for community clinics: the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) estimates that the more than 20 million people served by community health centers each year could nearly double by 2015 as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

“As millions more enter the health system starting in 2014, community health centers will become an increasingly vital resource nationwide,” said Kate Rubin, president of United Health Foundation. “We are working to help community clinics deliver high-quality care to the people who need it most and in ways that work. Our goal is to help solve the nation’s most serious health challenges, one community at a time.”

United Health Foundation will convene some of South Florida’s leading community and public health experts today at the Jefferson Reaves, Sr. Health Center to help raise awareness of these issues and the critical role community health centers play in Florida and nationally, and to discuss challenges and opportunities facing community health centers as the nation enters a new era of health care. Julia Yarbough, former news anchor for NBC6-WTVJ, will moderate the panel comprising the following speakers: Dr. Robert Schwartz, Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Kellie Rodríguez, Director of Education Services, University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute; Betty Gómez Galán, Direction Mission Delivery, American Diabetes Association, Miami-Dade chapter; and Kelvin Bacon, a Jefferson Reaves patient.

Community Health Centers: America’s Health Safety Net

A rising demand for care offered by community health centers, coupled with the growing physician shortage, will place considerable pressure on these clinics, which must be equipped to provide vital, high-quality care to some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations. Even as the number of people that community clinics serve surges, the shortage of primary care physicians in the United States is projected to rise to 62,900 by 2015 and will exceed 100,000 by 2025, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

“Community health centers are on the front lines of care in South Florida and the U.S., and they are in dire need of reinforcements,” said Robert Schwartz, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. “Through collaborations like the United Health Foundation Community Health Centers of Excellence, these clinics are benefitting from critical funding and on-the-ground support to meet the unique needs of patients in their communities, helping them continue to deliver the high-quality care on which their patients depend.”

Since 2003, United Health Foundation has committed more than $34 million in funding and provided technical support to four community health centers in vulnerable areas across the country, including Miami’s Jefferson Reaves, Sr. Health Center. The other clinics are: Daughters of Charity Health Center-St. Cecilia in New Orleans; South Bronx Health Center for Children & Families in New York (with the Children’s Health Fund); and Unity Health Care’s Congress Heights/Anacostia Health Center in Washington, D.C. The Foundation selected the centers based on the high prevalence of health issues linked to known racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities, including obesity and diabetes.

About United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. After its establishment by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $200 million to improve health and health care. For additional information, please visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.

Contacts:

UnitedHealth Group
Lauren Mihajlov, 612-382-1973
lauren_mihajlov@uhg.com
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