Kaiser Permanente Launches Community Network to Address Unmet Social Health Needs


Mid-Atlantic Community Network connects social service organizations across region as pandemic’s economic impact sets in

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to demonstrate that unmet social needs are barriers to health and well-being for many Americans. In Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, more than 1.5 million people have filed for unemployment due to the pandemic – with many facing food insecurity, homelessness and many other challenges. To address these vital social health needs, Kaiser Permanente has partnered with Unite Us to launch the Mid-Atlantic Community Network (MACN), a comprehensive community resource linking social service organizations, health care providers and public agencies in the region. The new network launched in Washington, D.C. and suburban Maryland this month with expansion planned to Baltimore in late 2020, and to Northern Virginia in 2021. As part of its nationwide commitment to address social health needs, Kaiser Permanente is providing free access to this community network for all non-profit organizations, community clinics and hospitals.

Using Unite Us’ shared technology platform, the MACN will offer critical health care and social services such as  housing, food, employment, behavioral health and utilities assistance by connecting community residents (including Kaiser Permanente members) to service organizations, health care providers and public agencies that can address these needs. The network consists of three components:

  • A network of organizations addressing social and health needs
  • A technology platform for participating organizations to collaborate and communicate with each other
  • An expansive resource directory of providers in the region

“At Kaiser Permanente, we believe that total health encompasses physical, mental and social well-being. Improving health does not happen only within the walls of a doctor’s office or medical center. By addressing social needs, we can help our members and communities truly thrive,” said Ruth Williams-Brinkley, RN, regional president at Kaiser Permanente. “In partnership with Unite Us, we are helping residents access vital resources and services across the region.”

In response to COVID-19, Kaiser Permanente expedited its timeline to launch the community network due to the growing need for social supports across the nation and specifically in the region. With more people facing economic challenges stemming from the pandemic, the network will help to expand access and coordinate services for those most in need of social supports.

“Unite Us is thrilled to partner with Kaiser Permanente to support the development of this new community network that will enable health care and social service providers in the Mid-Atlantic region to better assist community members to get the care they need,” said Kendra Canty, Unite Us senior account manager, Mid-Atlantic States. “The network will also enable community-based organizations to follow and assist their own clients’ journey of care. We’re honored to support community providers in the important work they’re already doing to take care of our neighbors in need.”

In addition to supporting community members, MACN also links the participating partners throughout the mid-Atlantic region, by providing a single, coordinated network available through a robust technology platform.  This reduces time for staff working on social service requests by creating a more efficient referral system, and tracks services delivered and patient outcomes.

“The Mid-Atlantic Community Network has the potential to streamline the referral process between nonprofits and help clients access services. Equally important, it will help identify service gaps and unmet needs,” said Lesley J. MacDonald, Executive Director, Nonprofit Montgomery. To date, more than 130 organizations have committed to participating in the new community network within the Mid-Atlantic region, including DC Central Kitchen, Primary Care Coalition, Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, So Others Might Eat, Latino Economic Development Center, Manna Food Center, Nonprofit Montgomery, Interfaith Works, and Catholic Charities DC, United Way of the National Capital Area, and EveryMind.

“This initiative can address an important need—helping government agencies, nonprofits, and health providers offer more holistic care for area residents. Ensuring that those in need can ‘connect the dots’ and better access the wide range of services available to them will shape a healthier future and more equitable region for us all,” said Chuck Bean, Executive Director, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

In addition to the new community network, Kaiser Permanente has also launched a new call center to provide access to social support services for its members across the country, including the mid-Atlantic region. Services that can be accessed through the call center include resources related to food access, mental health services and housing. Both the call center and the new MACN are part of Kaiser Permanente’s nation-wide focus on addressing social health in order to support overall health and wellness in the communities it serves.

“Communities across the nation need assistance with social health needs now more than ever,” said Celeste James, executive director for Community Health at Kaiser Permanente. “The Mid-Atlantic Community Network provides this vital, added resource to help those serving our communities stay connected and work efficiently to support those in need improve overall health and well-being.”

Through the new network with a vast array of partners, vital social services will help to support those most in need across the region. Amse Heck, program director, ServingTogether, a non-profit program dedicated to mental wellness, education, capacity-building, and coordinated care for veterans, service members, and their families in the mid-Atlantic, said “this robust, newly imagined network will allow for more widespread support to the region, along with additional providers to meet the needs of our entire community. We are excited for the growth our program will have and for the expansion of services available to our veteran and military families thanks to the network and Kaiser Permanente.”

To schedule a media interview on the Mid-Atlantic Community Network, please contact Marisa Lavine at marisa.a.lavine@kp.org or Betty Klinck at Betty.J.Klinck@kp.org

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 Unite Us

Unite Us is a technology company that builds coordinated care networks of health and social service providers. With Unite Us, providers across sectors can send and receive secure electronic referrals, track every person’s total health journey, and report on tangible outcomes across a full range of services in a centralized, cohesive, and collaborative ecosystem. Unite Us’ dedicated team builds authentic, lasting partnerships with local organizations to ensure their networks have a solid foundation, launch successfully, and continue to grow and thrive. This social infrastructure helps communities transform their ability to work together and measure impact at scale.  Follow Unite Us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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