A note from Anne
Dear Sun River Health family,
I am thrilled to announce our new North Star initiative, which re-centers care on the patient, not the visit. This means that we will be evolving the way we deliver care and services by prioritizing the patient’s needs and experience, not just the individual appointments. Our goal is to provide more comprehensive care that addresses the social drivers of health and fosters health equity, which has always been at the heart of Sun River Health’s mission.
One way we are improving the patient experience is by offering more flexibility in our services. We understand that everyone’s health journey is unique, and we want to meet patients where they are in their journey. To achieve this, we are offering a wider range of services beyond our walls, such as telehealth and community-based programs that focus on social determinants of health. By doing so, we can provide more holistic care that addresses the whole person, not just their medical needs.
Another critical aspect of our North Star initiative is our focus on health equity. Our founding intent has always been to serve the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our community. To build on this foundational view of Health Centers as a vehicle for health equity, we are working to eliminate disparities in health outcomes and access to care. This includes addressing social determinants of health, such as food insecurity, housing instability, and transportation barriers, which often disproportionately affect low-income communities.
Finally, we are investing in capital improvements to create healing environments. We recognize that the physical environment can impact a patient’s well-being and recovery. That’s why we are updating our facilities to be more welcoming, comfortable, and calming. Our goal is to create spaces that promote healing and reduce stress for our patients and staff allowing us to provide the care you need with the respect you deserve.
We are thrilled to announce the launch of Sun River Health’s Tobacco Cessation Program: Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). As part of our broader effort to prevent chronic illnesses and promote healthier lifestyles, this initiative will support and empower our patients in their journey to quit smoking.
Studies show that patients who have NRT in their home are more likely to try to stop smoking, even if they say they aren’t ready. Handing out starter packs of NRT means patients can start without the inconvenience or cost of stopping at the pharmacy. Our program aims to address the pressing issue of tobacco addiction by offering essential resources, information, and nicotine gum to individuals who smoke.
Patient education is key to success. We firmly believe that knowledge is power when it comes to overcoming addiction. Our dedicated team of health care professionals will work closely with patients, providing them with the necessary tools and information to make informed decisions about their health. From explaining the harmful effects of smoking to outlining the benefits of quitting, our education component aims to empower individuals and strengthen their motivation to quit.
We understand that quitting smoking is a complex journey that’s tough to take alone. By connecting individuals with a network of support, we aim to increase their chances of long-term success in their smoking cessation efforts.
Sun River Health has been invited to join the University of Chicago’s Advancing Health Equity (AHE) Learning Collaborative after an extensive application and interview process. Founded in 2018, the Learning Collaborative offers technical assistance to multi-stakeholder, state-based teams comprised of state Medicaid agencies, Medicaid health plans, health care provider organizations, Medicaid members, and community organizations partnering to advance health equity and combat racism.
“Sun River Health is honored to join the AHE Learning Collaborative and make progress in advancing health equity,” said Anne Kauffman Nolon, MPH, Sun River Health CEO. “The utilization of an intersectional approach to health equity that helps everyone play an active role in their own health care aligns perfectly with the core mission of health care as a right for all and not a privilege for some that Sun River Health has upheld since our founding in 1975.”
All members of the AHE Learning Collaborative cohort will have access to facilitated team activities that identify health inequity-driving racism at the individual, institutional, and structural levels, and take action to eliminate it. Additionally, the Learning Collaborative strives to create care delivery interventions and payment solutions that are designed to address underlying factors related to racism and intersecting forms of oppression that value and incorporate the patient and community voice. This comes at a perfect time as Sun River Health explores their role and participation with New York State’s 1115 Waiver.
“Healthfirst is pleased to work alongside our provider partner Sun River Health as part of the AHE Learning Collaborative,” said Pat Wang, President and CEO of Healthfirst. “Sun River Health serves nearly 30,000 Healthfirst members, some of the most vulnerable and financially challenged patient populations in New York State. With our value-based care model, we are uniquely positioned to partner with our providers to promote evidence-based initiatives that result in health equity and believe the Learning Collaborative is timely in its ability to help New York drive equitable care delivery to Medicaid beneficiaries.”
The fundamental goals of the AHE Learning Collaborative include:
- Advancing health equity through an anti-racist lens
- Facilitating a learning community and disseminating key lessons that reduce health inequities
- Transforming care in partnership with patients and communities
- Transforming payment by implementing payment reform mechanisms
- Transforming systems by aligning the efforts of state Medicaid offices, managed care organizations, and health care organizations with the patient-perspective
About Advancing Health Equity
Advancing Health Equity: Leading Care, Payment, and Systems Transformation (AHE) is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and based at the University of Chicago. AHE ‘s mission is to discover best practices for advancing health equity by fostering payment reform and sustainable care models to eliminate health and healthcare disparities.
Millions of people will no longer be covered by Medicaid over the next 14 months. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government suspended procedures that would remove people from Medicaid – something that happens regularly given changes in income, state of residence, or coverage under an employer. During the pandemic enrollment in Medicaid grew by nearly five million people due to the suspension of eligibility. On April 1, 2023, states began disenrolling members no longer eligible for the program for the first time since early 2020. An estimated 18 million people will lose Medicaid coverage by June 2024, and 3.8 million of those will become uninsured. What does this change mean for New Yorkers?
Estimated enrollment April 2023: 6,854,000
Estimated enrollment June 2024: 5,779,000
Estimated members disenrolled: 1,075,000
Percentage difference: -16
More than half of children in the United States receive health care coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers children whose families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but do not earn enough to afford private health insurance. The good news is that 80 to 90% of children will still be eligible for those programs according to estimates from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families.
This change in status for more than a million New Yorkers over the next year means more people will be seeking health care and social support services at organizations like Sun River Health that care for patients regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. This change to Medicaid also means fewer patient reimbursements from the program, which makes each dollar raised for Sun River Health patients even more vital to ensuring that every person receives the care they need and the respect they deserve.
If you would like to help guarantee our programs endure and can accommodate this incoming wave of new patients, you can do so here.
Sun River Health recently purchased 100 Blood Pressure Monitors to support clinicians in their care of patients throughout our network of care. It is important for clinicians to get an accurate blood pressure reading so they have a clear picture of a patient’s risk for heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure (also known as HBP or hypertension) is to have your blood pressure tested. Measuring blood pressure regularly helps our clinicians diagnose high blood pressure early so they can advise patients on steps to take to control of their blood pressure, identify risk factors that may be contributing to it, and take measures to address areas of concern – especially if other health issues are present.
Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:
- Systolic blood pressure (the first number) – indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats
- Diastolic blood pressure (the second number) – indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats
A number higher than the normal range in either Systolic or Diastolic pressure warrants investigation. The purchase of these new monitors ensures clinicians throughout our network have accurate tools to help in assessment of risk to our patients.
Sun River Health has been approved to receive $1.8 million in omnibus appropriations funding from Congress requested by Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries for Sun River Health The Alpha School in Brooklyn, and $2 million requested by Senator Chuck Schumer and Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney for Sun River Health Beacon.
“We are incredibly grateful to Senator Chuck Schumer and Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Sean Patrick Maloney for securing these important funds for our community health center sites at The Alpha School in Brooklyn and in Beacon,” said Anne Kauffman Nolon, MPH, Sun River Health CEO. “The funding for The Alpha School is a critical resource needed to bring this expanded health center vision to fruition. This expansion will ensure that more New Yorkers are able to access a wider variety of vital health care services, including walk-in primary care and behavioral health care, all utilizing using state-of-the-art equipment in a space that honors patients and creates a healing environment. The funding for Beacon will meet this community’s growing needs, including by adding urgent care and expanding primary care.”
The $1.8 million for The Alpha School will support the expansion of the facility’s primary care, behavioral health services, and OASAS programs in East New York, a medically underserved area in which more than 56% of the residents are low income and experience high rates of chronic health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and HIV/AIDS. The $2 million in funding for Sun River Health Beacon will help create a six-exam room urgent care suite.