Environment and access to necessities like food, shelter, and transportation have a significant effect on short and long-term health outcomes.
Secretary Teresa Miller
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
Economic and social conditions like stress, employment, housing quality, and access to food have a profound effect on health.
Meeting health needs in Kensington
Upper Kensington ranks last of 46 Philadelphia neighborhoods in health factors and health outcomes, according to a 2019 study by the City of Philadelphia and Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University.
With funding from the Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services, NKCDC has partnered with Jefferson University to train and hire Community Health Workers to address health needs in Kensington.
Sixteen Kensington residents graduated as Community Health Workers, and 11 were hired by NKCDC as Health Connectors, conducting health screenings and matching neighbors to health care, healthy food, credit and budget counseling, and other social service resources.
Who are Community Health Workers?
Community health workers bridge the gap between health care providers and patients. They advocate for patients and help them navigate the health systems and social support services available in their community.
The first assignment for NKCDC’s Health Connectors was to compile a database of resources, which they are now distributing in the community using an online screening tool developed by Jefferson University. By answering a short series of questions, Health Connectors are able to quickly match resources to an individual’s needs.
“Health Connectors walk through the neighborhood, station themselves at events and meetings, attend programs at local organizations, and keep regular hours at the NKCDC offices to connect residents resources that they may not be aware of,” said Lizette Lewis, who manages the group.
“Even through the difficult times Kensington is facing, Kensington residents and organizations are taking a stand against the social determinants that contribute to declining health in the community.”
Lizette Lewis, NKCDC Workforce Development Associate
Social determinants of health
NKCDC’s Health Connectors initative is part of a state-funded Health Enterprise Zone demonstration project, aimed at improving health outcomes across North Philadelphia.
The project addresses the social determinants of health—economic and social conditions that have a profound effect on the health of individuals and communities. These determinants may include:
“A person’s health and wellness are more than just how they are able to care for themselves—their environment and access to necessities like food, shelter, and transportation have a significant effect on short and long-term health outcomes,” said Teresa Miller, Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services.
“We must empower health care providers, managed care organizations, and community partners to think innovatively and work together on a whole-person approach to put the people we serve on a path to better long-term health outcomes.”