Time to Roll Up Our Sleeves: 4 Lessons from Grantmakers in Health

April 4, 2013


Today’s post was written by Yolanda Caldera-Durant, senior program officer at the Connecticut Health Foundation.

The task of connecting 334,000 uninsured Connecticut residents to health care is fast approaching. How can we in health philanthropy assist in meeting that challenge?

Although I am an experienced grant-maker I’m new to health grant-making. One of the first things that I did when I joined the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) in January 2013 as Senior Program Officer was to register for the 2013 Grantmakers in Health (GIH) Annual Meeting held from March 12 through 15 in lovely San Francisco. Perfect timing.

Here are my top 4 takeaways from GIH that will help me to work towards the CT Health Foundation’s broader mission and vision.

  1. Big Ideas to Blueprints: For health grant-makers, the passage and upholding of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is an especially exciting opportunity. Getting people covered for health care will help all of us be more effective in improving health at a national level. But as the conference title, “From Big Ideas to Blueprints” suggests, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and plot out how we can effectively roll out the ACA nationally and in our respective communities. It was reaffirming to see how many partners CT Health has in the GIH network to support us in carrying out this important and daunting work to improve the health of all CT residents.
  2. Transforming Health Care by Meeting Patients’ Basic Needs: Rebecca Onie, co-founder and CEO of Health Leads, spoke candidly about the major stressors and health problems patients experience due to not having adequate food and affordable housing. Sadly, Onie stated, many health care providers have a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” when it comes to the challenges that their patients face. Providers are aware of the basic needs that their patients have but don’t know how to help them.  Rebecca’s talk hammered home the need for holistic health care delivery to truly help people to become and stay healthy.
  3. Public-Private Partnership: Opportunities and Health Care Reform: The Affordable Care Act presents us with a major opportunity to achieve health equity. At the Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) meeting on Public-Private Partnership: Opportunities and Health Care Reform I learned that about 2 million people of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent nationally will have access to health insurance coverage. However, 1 in 3 people in this group have limited English language proficiency. The task of ensuring that these individuals enroll in health care coverage is significant. Only with public-private partnerships will sufficient numbers of this population obtain health care coverage. I learned that a culturally and linguistically appropriate training module is being created in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for distribution to the federal and state exchanges to effectively reach AAPI families. It was heartening to know that at CT Health we have robust public partnerships and have the ability to help make the connections to community providers that serve large numbers of people of color including African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians so that these populations access health care coverage in significant numbers.
  4. Quality Time with CT Health Foundation Colleagues: It wasn’t all work for me at the GIH annual meeting! I had the opportunity to spend time with my CT Health colleagues—Pat Baker and Elizabeth Krause—and a small group of our board members—Sanford Cloud, Marilyn Alverio, Margarita Torres and Bob Schreibman. What I discovered is that they love to eat good food, share stories about their loved ones, dance Salsa and watch the beautiful San Francisco sunset.

Attending the GIH annual meeting was a true gift. I deepened my professional knowledge in health grantmaking, met many colleagues in the field nationally, spent quality time getting to know my CT Health colleagues, and enjoyed the beauty of San Francisco in the spring.

What are your ideas on how we go from the big idea of the ACA to a blueprint for health equity for Connecticut?

One Response to Time to Roll Up Our Sleeves: 4 Lessons from Grantmakers in Health

  1. Lina Paredes says:

    I am so glad that going to GIH proved to be a good learning space for you, Yolanda. We have our work cut out for us and it’s terrific to have you on board to do it with!

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