News Release

Grant will support hospital screening for patients’ social needs

HARTFORD, Conn. (Dec. 21, 2020) – Much of what influences health happens outside the medical care system, but issues such as whether a patient has enough to eat, a safe place to live, or reliable transportation are not typically recorded in medical records or addressed during medical visits. Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury will pilot ways to better identify and address patients’ needs with a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation.

The $80,000 grant will allow the hospital’s emergency department, family clinic, and outreach programs to pilot a screening and referral system for social factors that influence health. Patients who need extra support will be referred to a community health worker and connected to community resources through an electronic system that will allow clinicians and caseworkers to ensure patients receive the supports and track their outcomes. The results of the screening will also be integrated with the hospital’s electronic health record system.

The hospital will track the impact of this initiative. If successful, it could be expanded to other departments, as well as other hospitals with the same parent company, Trinity Health Of New England.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated, eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities requires recognizing and addressing the many issues that influence health. This approach has the potential to significantly improve the hospital’s ability to better serve patients,” said Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “We are pleased to support Saint Mary’s Hospital in piloting this system and in advancing its commitment to assuring that everyone can be as healthy as possible.”

“Advancing racial justice and addressing health disparities requires a coordinated approach that focuses on all influencers of health, not just episodic clinical care,” said Dr. Steven Schneider, Saint Mary’s Hospital President. “Saint Mary’s Hospital is committed to improving individual and public health and addressing the interrelated system of inequities that lead to disparate health outcomes.”

“We are truly grateful to the Connecticut Health Foundation for funding this pilot program so we may better serve the health care needs of everyone in the Waterbury community. Partnerships like this allow us to fulfill our mission of serving as a compassionate and healing presence,” said Amanda Nardiello, chief development officer of Saint Mary’s Hospital Foundation.

The grant is one of 10 awarded this quarter, totaling $865,297. The others are:

Greater Waterbury Health Partnership, Waterbury: $100,000

This grant will fund the second year of a three-year initiative intended to develop a community care team, which brings together clinical care providers from Waterbury Hospital and Saint Mary’s Hospital and community-based health and social service providers who work together to meet the needs of high-need patients. In the first year, the partners – including Center for Human Development and New Opportunities, Inc. – worked together to address patient needs including homelessness, lack of transportation, and behavioral health or substance use treatment. In the second year, the partners plan to hire a community health worker or case manager to grow the team’s capacity to serve more patients, expand participation in an electronic referral network to connect patients to community-based services more efficiently, and develop analyses to identify the return on investment achieved by the team’s work. This grant is part of a funding opportunity meant to build more systematic links between community-based organizations and hospitals.

Health Equity Solutions, Hartford: $300,000

This grant will support Health Equity Solutions in its work to advance health equity. This will include establishing issue-based coalitions to increase health equity advocacy capacity; advocating for improved collection and reporting of data on race, ethnicity, and language in health; and advancing policies that result in sustainable funding for community health workers.

Connecticut News Project, Hartford: $150,000 (2 years)

This funding will support coverage of health policy news by The Connecticut Mirror, the nonprofit news organization run by the Connecticut News Project. This coverage will include explanatory and policy-oriented enterprise reporting, as well as coverage of emerging health issues and other health topics.

The Connecticut Health Foundation provides grants to nonprofit media organizations because news reporting on health care provides insights, informs debates, and ensures that critical topics reach broad audiences. The funding is awarded with an understanding that the journalism will be independent, and the grant will play no role in editorial decisions about health coverage.

COVID-19 response grants

The foundation awarded six grants to address the COVID-19 pandemic this quarter. More information on the foundation’s response to the pandemic is available in this report.

Ledge Light Health District, New London: $20,500 (3 months)

This funding will support the Ledge Light Health District in hiring a second community health worker to support COVID-19 response efforts. The community health worker will be involved in messaging, engaging community members to promote COVID-prevention and help them overcome barriers to staying healthy, promoting testing and vaccination, and addressing needs such as food and housing insecurity.

City of New Haven: $124,797 (6 months)

This funding will support the New Haven Health Department in implementing a community health worker pilot program to address the disparate impacts of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza on low-income Latinx and Black residents. The program includes hiring six part-time community health workers to conduct outreach and education.

State of Connecticut Department of Administrative Services, Hartford: $60,000

This funding will support the state’s COVID-19 contact tracing program in an effort to encourage more people from communities of color to participate in contact tracing and build trust between communities of color and public health officials. The work will include creating videos and other materials in five languages to provide information about the contact tracing process as well as support for individuals who test positive and need to self-isolate. The materials will feature local community messengers.

The following grants were awarded as part of the foundation’s emergency support grants, which allow organizations to provide direct assistance to meet basic needs in their communities:

  • Building One Community, Stamford: $10,000
  • FaithActs for Education, Bridgeport: $10,000
  • Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Partnership, Bridgeport: $10,000

For more information, please contact Arielle Levin Becker at or 203-901-2363.