In response to the 2022 Brandywine Hospital Closure, leaders from the community and in nearly 20 local and county organizations convened to develop long-term equitable health access strategies. These community leaders explored gaps in access to health services exacerbated by COVID-19, brought to light through community discussions and the Greater Coatesville Health Survey. Further research determined that an integrated care model would be an accessible, effective resource for Greater Coatesville. The combined studies led The Alliance to apply for Chester County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. At the end of 2022, the county awarded $2.2 million to the Equity Health Center in Greater Coatesville.
The Equity Health Center launched after planning and collaboration across government, public, and private sectors who advocated for increased health services in the community. With an Oversight Committee composed of local community leaders and other physical and mental health providers, the Equity Health Center will be housed in the fourth floor of the Brandywine Center at 744 East Lincoln Highway, Coatesville, PA 19320.
The Equity Health Center will serve as a connecting point for health services across the community. Integrated care connects professionals who use their expertise in a standalone service. By connecting, for example, mental health, physical health, preventative education, and/or transportation, the understanding of a community member’s well being can now be expanded from individual services to a larger provider network for improved health outcomes.
“The opportunity to bring an Integrated Equity center to Greater Coatesville serves as a vital tool to address the social determinants of health and increase equitable health access and well-being for all the citizens in Coatesville and its surrounding areas. As a member of the oversight committee, we thank Chester County, ARPA funding, and community stakeholders for allowing us to develop a provider network in Coatesville, improve health outcomes, and provide the healthcare our region deserves”. – Rev. Dr. Linwood Smith Jr., Community Health and Wellness Organizer and Itinerate Elder at the African American Methodist Episcopal Church
The Equity Health Center convenes five service providers to address health, wellness, and access. With providing primary care for uninsured and increasing navigational support for youth mental health, among other services, these service providers will directly address the barriers to access that were identified and further confirmed through the Greater Coatesville Health Survey, conducted in Summer 2022. Following a Request for Proposals, and a review from the Oversight Committee, the five providers were chosen to implement programming aimed at increasing engagement in community healthcare. The providers and their services are listed below:
- Coatesville Center for Community Health will serve as the communication hub for the Equity Health Center. Their coordination will facilitate collaboration across organizations serving community members, implementing a digital platform to foster inter-agency communication.
- Transportation Management Association of Chester County (TMACC), which services the existing Coatesville LINK, will introduce a new “on-demand” service to allow community members easier access to health and social service appointments and work. The new electronic fare system will now meet the modern transportation needs of the community.
- Community Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM), “the only organization in Chester County providing free, comprehensive healthcare for uninsured, low-income workers and their families,” will expand their services from West Chester into Coatesville. The introduction of telehealth services with hands-on support from a Medical Assistant in the Brandywine Center will fill gaps in services for those uninsured.
- Chester County Hospital has been selected to provide wellness and prevention services. With existing programs already in place, a Health Educator and a Program Leader will introduce personalized health education and wellness knowledge along with opportunities for labs and screenings for prevention.
- Coatesville Youth Initiative (CYI) is led by a team of experienced leaders, knowledgeable about Coatesville youth and enthusiastic about expanding their programming. Their work under the Equity Health Center will include outreach, screening, referrals, education, navigation, and pro-social opportunities for youth, particularly in grades 6-9.
A further growing Community and Provider Network will enhance this network of contracted providers. The Oversight Committee, with administrative oversight by The Alliance for Health Equity, will oversee the work and deliverables of the Equity Health Center. The members of the Oversight Committee members include Rev. Dr. Linwood Smith (community partner), Milena Lanz (Maternal Child Health Consortium), Tamara Fox (ChesPenn Health), and Heather Kaplonski (Child Guidance Resource Center). Following scheduled renovations, updates on the opening of CVIM services, additional behavioral health services and other wellness opportunities are forthcoming.
The Alliance for Health Equity is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focusing directly on the Greater Coatesville community’s health, well-being, and uplifting community voice. The organization serves as a trusted partner to develop substantive solutions to address complex health, social and economic conditions by working in partnership with the community, corporate, government, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors to ensure the ability for the community to thrive. For more information, visit our website at: https://alliancehealthequity.org/ .
Pictured: Equity Health Network Providers (from left to right): Jarvis Berry, Coatesville Youth Initiative; Moira Gassenmeyer, Equity Health Center Coordinator; Maureen Tomoschuk, Coatesville Volunteers in Medicine; Michele Francis, and Kathy Gorman, Chester County Hospital. Not pictured: Transportation Management Association of Chester County and Coatesville Center for Community Health.