Trenton Health Team Receives $1.6M Grant
TRENTON – City health officials are calling a new $1.6 million grant from a Newark foundation a “shot in the arm” in their efforts to help the Trenton Health Team reach its goal of providing coordinated medical care to residents.
By funding staff and expanded care for some of the city’s most frequent users of emergency departments, the 18-month award from The Nicholson Foundation is expected to give the Trenton Health Team the boost it needs to become a Medicaid Accountable Care Organization (ACO), health officials said.
ACOs are groups of health care providers that work together to treat similar populations. The goal is to streamline medical care, reduce health costs and share any savings that result from improved health outcomes and reduced costs.
“What they’re funding is growth within the Trenton Health Team,” said city health and human services director James Brownlee. “They are funding infrastructure to allow us to move forward in an aggressive way with the idea of becoming an Accountable Care Organization.”
The Trenton Health Team comprises the city health department, Capital Health, St. Francis Medical Center, and the federally funded Henry J. Austin Health Center.
Founded in 2010, the team has worked to improve access to primary care in the city, creating a network of doctors, clinics and other providers for poor and uninsured or under-insured patients who might otherwise turn to expensive emergency room care to treat minor maladies such as colds or chronic illnesses like diabetes.
Dr. Ruth Perry, executive director of the Trenton Health Team, said 36 percent of residents in Trenton’s six zip codes have incomes that fall 200 percent below the federal poverty level and significant medical and social needs.
The grant “is an extremely positive event to continue our work with finding a medical home for every resident of Trenton,” Brownlee said.
The funding will allow the Trenton Health Team to hire more staff, creating an organizational infrastructure for a team made up of a patchwork of professionals from different hospitals and health centers.
Part of the grant will be used to support a nurse-led care team that will be in charge of caring for and tracking “superusers” – patients who frequently use local emergency rooms and may also have serious social problems, like mental illness, substance abuse or homelessness.
“We are still at the beginning of our efforts, but we are making progress,” said Trenton Health Team president Christy Stephenson. “This new grant from The Nicholson Foundation will enable us to continue on our mission to improve health while at the same time containing costs that have spiraled out of control.”
About the Trenton Health Team
Trenton Health Team (THT) is an alliance of the city’s major providers of healthcare services including Capital Health, St. Francis Medical Center, Henry J. Austin Health Center and the city’s Health Department. In collaboration with residents and the city’s active social services network, THT is developing an integrated healthcare delivery system to transform the city’s fragmented primary care system and restore health to the city. THT aims to make Trenton the healthiest city in the state. Support for the Trenton Health Team was provided in part by a grant from The Nicholson Foundation. For more information, visit www.trentonhealthteam.org.