ProMedica has launched an initiative addressing the health impact of unsafe housing conditions, one of the first health systems to do so.
The Toledo, Ohio-based health system announced Wednesday it was entering into a multi-year, multi-city partnership to reduce the health hazard caused by substandard housing conditions with the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, a Baltimore-based, not-for-profit organization that provides support services and technical assistance to create healthy housing environments.
Rachel Krausman, vice president of national strategy and partnerships for ProMedica, said the project is the first big investment from the health system's Impact Fund, an initiative launched last year to raise $1 billion to address social needs like housing instability, food and financial insecurity to improve the health outcomes of communities.
She anticipated the cost of the project to be several million dollars, but hesitated to provide a target number on how many homes they were looking to help or how much the health system would ultimately invest.
"We're not necessarily capping the number of homes or the amount of money," Krausman said. "The goal is really to have a strong plan, get started, and then continue to grow that investment over time."
The first phase of the project will take place over the next six months and involve analyzing housing conditions within several of ProMedica's patient communities to better understand the level of need for housing modifications, and to identify available area partners.
Phase two is expected to take place over the next two to three years and will entail partnering with local entities who will be responsible for actually making the home modifications.
Like other healthcare providers, ProMedica has made a number of investments to address housing instability over the last several years. Many of those efforts have involved providing new housing to homeless individuals or those in unstable living arrangements.
But ProMedica's initiative is one of the first large investments made by a healthcare provider that focuses on improving substandard conditions of existing housing, a problem that affects approximately six million homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Residences with cold and damp interiors, pest infestations, and lead in pipes and in paint covering walls have been associated with higher rates of asthma, as well as neurological and developmental impairments among those who inhabit those households.
Krausman said identifying individuals living in households in need of modifications will involve receiving referrals from community organizations as well as screening patients within their clinical settings. The goal was to eventually partner with other health systems who can also refer patients they identify as being in need.
"This is definitely not a ProMedica-centric effort, but rather it is leveraging our expertise and footprint to hopefully galvanize more of this work across the country," Krausman said.