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Boldly advancing humankindness and health justice for all

CommonSpirit Health Foundation

More than ever, our world needs compassion. Our communities need caring and our families need support. To meet these challenges, CommonSpirit Health is committed to building healthy communities by advocating for those who are poor and vulnerable, and focusing on where healing can happen.

CommonSpirit Health Foundation’s innovative approach to addressing this mission goes beyond simply achieving health equity — instead focusing on creating lasting health justice for all. The foundation is working to eliminate systemic barriers to health by partnering with donors to turn their contributions into meaningful and lasting change. Guided by a commitment to humankindness, the foundation is changing lives through pioneering  programs that improve mental and maternal health, prevent violence and human trafficking, and create healthier communities nationwide.

In emergency rooms across California, our ministry is putting this approach into practice, utilizing nearly $6 million in grant funding secured through the foundation to reduce barriers to care and expand treatment for those with substance use and mental health conditions. The foundation secured critical funding from the California Department of Health Care Services’ California Bridge Program and the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that will change the lives of thousands.

“By removing barriers to care and expanding our services to persons that have historically faced difficulty accessing treatment, we can provide meaningful opportunities for recovery and personal growth. We are grateful and excited to be the recipient of this funding.”

With $2.5 million in funding, over the next five years St. Joseph’s Behavioral Health Center expects to educate over 5,000 community members in San Joaquin County and provide intensive medication-assisted treatment and recovery services to 525 adults with opioid use disorder, including probationers and parolees. The program, entitled Access MAT, will strengthen the link between medication-assisted treatment, counseling and recovery services provided within St. Joseph’s Behavioral Health Center and St. Joseph’s Medical Center Emergency Department. Externally, the program will initiate outreach and engagement in the community and facilitate coordination with San Joaquin County Correctional Health Care and other correctional facilities to support treatment for inmates within four months of their release.

“We have a unique opportunity to prove that the combination of medicated assisted treatment and therapy really works,” says Paul Rains RN, MSN, System Senior Vice President, Behavioral Health and President, St. Joseph’s Behavioral Health Center. “By removing barriers to care and expanding our services to persons that have historically faced difficulty accessing treatment, we can provide meaningful opportunities for recovery and personal growth. We are grateful and excited to be the recipient of this funding.”

An additional grant secured by the foundation from the California Bridge Program, part of an overall $40 million statewide initiative, seeks to further advance these efforts, making treatment of substance use and mental health conditions the standard of care in all California emergency departments. CommonSpirit will utilize its $3.48 million grant to embed substance use navigators in its 29 California hospitals.

Fundamental to this approach is a shift in perspective that views substance use disorder as a treatable medical emergency, rather than criminal activity or moral failing. Under this model, trained navigators work alongside clinicians utilizing a harm-reduction methodology to identify patients in the emergency setting who would benefit from initiating medication for addiction treatment or need access to mental health care. Navigators would next screen patients for these services, ultimately linking them with appropriate programs in the community.

Integrated care that treats physical ailments, substance use and mental health simultaneously is shown to yield the best outcomes for the patients served. The navigator program puts in place equitable access to evidence-based care for individuals experiencing substance use disorder and mental illness by transforming hospital emergency departments into localized primary access points for treatment and services.

CommonSpirit Health Foundation is advancing health justice through programs like these that change business practices. By removing these systemic barriers, health access and services are provided equitably. Working with other sectors ensures that everyone has access to health and promoting resources creates lasting change. Guiding these efforts is an actively engaged volunteer board of directors (see sidebar) with vast experience in health care, community organization, strategic initiatives, philanthropy and program management.

CommonSpirit Health Foundation
Board of Directors

  • Jed York, Chairman of the Board
  • Lela Riis Usry Agnew
  • Willie L. Brown, Jr.
  • Michael Covarrubias
  • Lloyd H. Dean
  • ‘Remi J. Kajogbola
  • Alisahah Jackson, MD
  • Wright L. Lassiter, III
  • Fred Najjar
  • Janet Reilly
  • Kristi Yamaguchi

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