Trenton Health Team first came together in 2006 as the result of a report commissioned by Mayor Douglas Palmer to assess the impact of the proposed closure of Mercer hospital.
In February, 2006, the Mayor of Trenton commissioned an independent consulting firm, the Katz Consulting Group, to research and develop a plan for improving the health status of the city and for increasing access to healthcare services. The consultants found that although Trenton was served by three hospitals, a Federally Qualified Health Center, and a city health clinic, residents of the city did not have consistent access to primary care and instead accessed many disconnected providers, and the Emergency Departments, as needs arose.
As a result, the health status of Trenton residents was lower than their Mercer County neighbors and the rest of the State. The Katz Consulting Group also recognized that the utilization of hospital emergency rooms by city residents was 54% higher than the national norm, leading to costly, inefficient, duplicative, episodic, and unsatisfactory healthcare. In their report, the Katz Group recommended that the city’s care providers collaborate to solve these healthcare problems.
In response to this call for action, and throughout the process of working with the consultant, fierce competitors were brought together to resolve challenges. As those healthcare providers began to find common ground, a partnership grew among former competitors that formed the basis of Trenton Health Team. THT was formally constituted as a 501(c)(c3) in February of 2010.
THT can point now to significant accomplishments that are improving healthcare delivery and outcomes. For example, access to care has been improved through adoption of an open access or “same day” scheduling system, resulting in reduced patient wait times (37 days down to two days at HJAHC) and improved patient provider continuity (0% to over 95% at SFMC). The Community-wide Clinical Care Coordination Team (C4T), composed of physicians, case managers, nurses, and social workers from THT partners, plus representatives of community behavioral health and social service agencies, meets regularly to improve the quality of care to the community’s neediest patients. By focusing on data analysis to identify the highest utilizers of emergency rooms, the C4T was able to achieve reductions of ER use by more than 45% across the city. And THT’s Care Management Team, which has been funded by The Nicholson Foundation, has coordinated care for more than 180 high-utilizing individuals with complex health needs, demonstrating significant success while learning about the many challenges inherent in this work.