By Calvin Tomkins, MD, MHA
Assistant Medical Director, Mission Health Partners
Obstacles. We all face them en route to achieving our goals. But for those with obstacles standing in the way of their most basic needs, it’s important to know that help is available.
One particularly tough obstacle to overcome is food insecurity. Food insecurity is the lack of access to the nutritious foods necessary to live a healthy life. In 2012, 16 percent of people and 28 percent of children in western North Carolina were food insecure. As food insecurity is a social determinant that impacts health, Mission Health Partners (MHP) targeted this need in hopes of easing the stress of food insecurity that might allow for better lifestyle choices.
In 2016, MHP partnered with MANNA FoodBank and WNC YMCA to address food insecurity. MANNA FoodBank is a private, not-for-profit service organization, providing food with hope and dignity to WNC since 1983. MANNA links the food industry with over 200 partner agencies – including MHP – in 16 counties of western North Carolina.
Six MHP clinics evaluated patients and families for food insecurity by using a validated two-question screening tool. Families screening positive were encouraged to access the YMCA’s Mobile Kitchen, which made twice monthly stops at each of the six clinics. Additionally, these patients were given the option of seeking further support from MANNA FoodBank with SNAP, or food stamp, applications.
MHP takes a unique care coordination approach by taking into account the social and environmental factors that influence a patient’s health outcomes. By also connecting its patients with resources and community partners, MHP helps its patients meet their most critical basic needs, clearing the pathway for them to focus on their health.
Mission Health Partners works with many community organizations to address the underlying causes of health problems in the populations we serve:
- ABIPA (Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement) – community health workers
- Appalachian Mountain Community Health Centers – primary care provider
- Pisgah Legal – legal assistance
- Western Carolina Medical Society – linkage for specialist visits and insurance support
- MANNA FoodBank
- MAP – medication assistance program
- Council on Aging – care coordination and community resource linkage
- Sona – pharmacy
- CarePartners – palliative care
- Four Seasons – palliative care
- CaraMedics – community paramedics
- Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness – substance abuse peer support
Watch this video to learn more about Mission Health’s partnership with MANNA.
Dr. Calvin Tomkins is a board certified pediatrician in Asheville. He serves as the Assistant Medical Director for Mission Health Partners, a network of hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers working together to improve healthcare quality, performance, efficiency and value for the patients of western North Carolina.