[Hospitals and Health Networks]

Eighteen collaborative efforts between health systems, public health departments and other community groups are moving forward with plans to tackle various community health problems after receiving funding awards from the BUILD Health Challenge.

The awards, in the form of either $250,000 over two years for implementation of existing partnerships or $75,000 for planning new ones, are designed to address social and environmental factors that have the greatest effect on health in the awardees’ communities.

The BUILD Health Challenge was founded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and the Advisory Board Co. to encourage cooperation among the various health care players in a community.

Participating health systems have committed to match the grant funding with financial or in-kind support.

Winners of grants are tackling such problems as health disparities, obesity and behavioral health by addressing root causes, such as inadequate housing or lack of access to wellness care.

One of the implementation award winners — Healthy Homes East Bank of Des Moines, Iowa —includes all of the community’s hospitals, Broadlawns Medical System, Mercy Medical Center, and UnityPoint Health.

“One of the exciting things for us is we have all three hospitals participating,” said Rick Kozin, director of the Polk County Health Department, one of the sponsors of the Healthy Homes initiative, which targets pediatric asthma.

The primary strategy is that the participating hospitals will identify children from targeted neighborhoods who show up in the emergency room for asthma, Kozin said.

Then a remediation crew goes to the homes of participating patients to remove the cause, be it mold-causing moisture or pests.

In addition to alleviating asthma symptoms, the remediation for asthma causes is cheaper than an emergency department visit.

“It could be as simple as putting in some caulking to prevent moisture from getting in,” Kozin said.