Amid a global pandemic that continues to exacerbate health disparities for many Americans, Kaiser Permanente has committed $175,000 to the Mason and Partners Clinics (MAP Clinics) and George Mason University’s Business for a Better World Center. The grant will enable Mason to serve as the lead anchor partner in a collaborative initiative to remove barriers to health and expand access to the resources needed to thrive for residents in the Bailey’s Crossroads/Culmore neighborhood of Fairfax County, Virginia.
Kaiser Permanente’s investment will further support the organizations’ efforts to develop innovative community-designed programs and community-led initiatives aiming to address health disparities in the Bailey’s/Culmore community. In addition to Mason, Kaiser Permanente works closely with community organizations like Columbia Baptist Church, the Medical Care for Children Partnership Foundation, Culmore Clinic, St. Anthony’s Parish, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and Just Neighbors, along with county leadership, local businesses and philanthropic organizations to support these initiatives.
“Kaiser Permanente is honored to expand our partnership with George Mason University, an organization that shares our mission for improving the health of the communities we serve,” said Tonga Turner, interim executive director of Community Health at Kaiser Permanente. “Collaboration with organizations like Mason is critical to transform Northern Virginia communities such as Bailey’s Crossroads and Culmore into places where residents have equitable access to high-quality health care, nutritious food, good jobs and thriving schools.”
The grant also establishes Mason as the lead partner organization in Northern Virginia for Kaiser Permanente’s Mid-Atlantic Community Network (MACN), launched in partnership with Unite Us, which is a free resource available to community organizations to serve social health needs ranging from food access and housing assistance to workforce development and healthcare services. The MACN has launched in D.C., suburban Maryland and Greater Baltimore, and is scheduled to launch in Northern Virginia this June. This grant expands upon Kaiser Permanente’s ongoing collaborative, community-based approach to making Northern Virginia a healthier place to live, play and work.
Prior to the pandemic, about 240,000 people in Northern Virginia were underinsured or did not have health insurance and 160,000 lived in poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased levels of unemployment, as well as housing and food insecurity across the region. Unemployment spiked in Fairfax County by more than 5% over the past year, and the number of county residents seeking emergency food assistance doubled.
The grant extends Kaiser Permanente’s partnership with George Mason University, which began in 2019 with a $500,000 investment to establish the Kaiser Permanente Community Wellness Hub in partnership with Mason’s College of Health and Human Services Population Health Center.
“We are excited about our continued collaboration with Kaiser Permanente in the delivery of care with attention to the social determinants of health on behalf of vulnerable populations to ensure health equity,” said Dr. Germaine Louis, dean of the College of Health and Human Services at George Mason.
Since 2018, Kaiser Permanente has led a collaborative, community-based effort in the Bailey’s Crossroads and Culmore communities involving health care providers, places of worship, non-profit organizations, schools and other community partners – all seeking to create access to the resources people need to thrive, such as healthy food, high-quality health care, good jobs and thriving schools. These efforts have included partnering with local food pantries to deliver hundreds of pounds of food to those in-need and connecting more than 200 Bailey’s/Culmore residents with low or no-cost medical care.
“Even more than other businesses, the business of health needs to focus on the well-being of our community,” said Maury Peiperl, dean of Mason’s School of Business. “Kaiser Permanente is known as a leader for moving health forward, and partnering on this initiative is another way we are using business as a force for good.”
“The Culmore community is one of the largest and most diverse immigrant communities in the nation, and while it has a strong, dedicated network of direct service providers, residents lack equitable access to health care, affordable housing, and secure employment needed to live healthy and productive lives,” said Stacey Picard, assistant director of Social Services at Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and co-chair of the Bailey’s/Culmore Place Based Initiative Coalition. “The leadership, commitment, resources and side-by-side collaboration that Kaiser Permanente brings to the table is a game changer. This initiative is strengthening our network and improving the impact we can have by addressing the systemic barriers that have kept Culmore from thriving. We are so excited to be a part of this transformative work.”
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/
About George Mason University
George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility. For more information visit gmu.edu.
About the Mason Partners Clinics
George Mason University’s Mason and Partners (MAP) interprofessional clinics serve the uninsured and refugee community within Prince William and Fairfax counties in Northern Virginia. These bridge-care model free clinics, located in Manassas, Springfield, and Culmore, provide health care, school physicals, screenings, and mental health services for vulnerable populations located in low income and medically underserved areas (MUA). The ambulatory clinics provide to the community referrals, resources, and case management for medical home placement; wellness and integrated care workshops; and group care for chronic disease management and education. The MAP Clinics provide experiential learning opportunities for students enrolled in Mason’s College of Health and Human Services.
About the Mid-Atlantic Community Network
The Mid-Atlantic Community Network is part of the Unite DMV and Unite Maryland networks. Partners in the networks are connected through Unite Us’ shared technology platform, which enables them to send and receive electronic referrals, address people’s social needs, and improve health across communities. In June 2020, Kaiser Permanente launched the Mid-Atlantic Community Network in D.C. and Suburban Maryland with organizations that serve Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Calvert and Charles counties. The network expanded to include organizations that serve Baltimore and surrounding counties in October 2020, followed by organizations that serve Northern Virginia in 2021.
About Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center
Established in 1983, Dar Al-Hijrah is a mosque and Islamic Center serving the Northern Virginia Muslim community. The center holds 5 daily prayers, hosts more than 3000 congregants during Friday prayers, and serves the local community through weekly food banks and other social service functions.