Mass General Brigham invests $50m in community partners
Seeks to address mental health, chronic disease, food insecurity
THE STATE’S LARGEST hospital system says it intends to invest $50 million over the next five years in 20 community partners who can help address mental health care shortages, chronic disease, and food insecurity.
Mass General Brigham said the $50 million will be in addition to the $175 million it is already spending annually on community health. What sets the new money apart is that most of it is going to community partners outside the hospital system network.
The biggest chunk of money — $18 million – is going to address mental health shortages that are in plain view in hospital emergency rooms where patients are forced to endure long waits for treatment. Mass General Brigham is trying to tackle the problem two ways – by funding stipends, fellowships, scholarships, and salary supplements to increase the number of graduates going into the field and by supporting the delivery of more mental health services.
Its partners on the education front are Bridgewater State University, William James College, UMass Boston, Salem State University, Quincy College, and Boston College. Its partners on the care delivery front are the Massachusetts Association of Mental Health and the Corey Johnson Program for Post-Traumatic Healing at Roxbury Presbyterian Church.
The last area of focus is food insecurity. Tavares said $13.3 million would go to expanding capacity to deliver nutritious food to people who need it. The hospital system’s partners are Community Servings, About Fresh, La Colaborativa, GreenRoots, the Lynn Food Security Task Force, My Brother’s Table, and Greater Lynn Senior Services.
Tavares said there is overlap between some of the areas of focus. For example, a woman could be diagnosed with hypertension in Chelsea and then be referred to various partners for food, nutritional advice, and kitchen skills. The combination will address the underlying problem and not just the symptoms, Tavares said.“We have to do more to try to have social determinants of health work back to the disease,” she said.
Tavares said the $50 million will be spent over five years, but 80 percent of the money is already contracted with the various partners.