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Grant Funds 2-1-1 Community Resource Navigation Specialists at MetroHealth

Patients who qualify for necessities like food, housing, transportation and utilities are only a phone call away from help through United Way’s 211 program. And now, thanks to a $4.5 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), patients can connect face-to-face with 211 Community Resource Navigation Specialists in Labor and Delivery, Heart and Vascular and Internal Medicine.Michelle Snowden, a Community Resource Navigation Specialist assigned to Labor and Delivery, is one of seven specialists working at MetroHealth. “My job is to make sure patients who qualify for aid are connected with resources that will help them and their families,” said Michelle.If a patient happens to access care two or more times from the Emergency Department within a 12-month period, the Community Resource Navigation Specialist will step-up communications. “We will partner more closely with them over the next year to ensure they are receiving the proper help they need,” said Ashley Grayer, a Community Resource Navigation Specialist in Internal Medicine.

That help will consist of working with patients to set goals and conduct regular check-ups to ensure there are no barriers preventing patients from meeting their goals. The goals could be anything from finding stable employment to securing long-term housing, according to Ashley.The grant also supports specialists at the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and Care Alliance Health Center.Working regular shifts, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Community Resource Navigation Specialists at the four hospitals are expected to see approximately 75,000 patients a year. The program is only offered to residents in Cleveland, East Cleveland and Warrensville.The grant is part of a bigger federally funded initiative called Accountable Health Communities (AHC). Food and housing insecurity has been linked with chronic diseases, increased use of health care and higher health care costs. The goal of having a community resource navigation specialist available to meet with patients in-person is to ensure patients are accessing resources available to reduce the negative impact poverty can have on health.

Patients are provided a brief survey to help navigators determine what community resources they may need.