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Unite Us, Oregon Health Leadership Council, and Partners Announce Connect Oregon: A Collaborative Network to Address Social Health Statewide

New York, NY, October 28, 2020 --A coalition of local health organizations in Oregon has committed to expand existing infrastructure to connect people to health and social services. 

Central Oregon Health Council, PacificSource, CareOregon, Columbia Pacific CCO, Jackson Care Connect, Health Share of Oregon, and the Oregon Health Leadership Council today collectively announced that they’ve chosen Unite Us as their technology partner to electronically connect health and social care providers throughout the state, ensuring that more people in Oregon can get the care they need, when they need it. 

With this partnership, these organizations have made a bold commitment to invest in social health infrastructure with an emphasis on community, through one coordinated care network: Connect Oregon. They join InterCommunity Health Network CCO and Samaritan Health Services, Kaiser Permanente, 211info, and local health and social service organizations who were already working with Unite Us to lay the groundwork in the state. Now, those existing efforts will continue to grow and thrive. 

For a comprehensive list of all stakeholders, and to read more in their own words why this work is so critical right now, visit Connect Oregon’s website.

Community-based organizations who provide social services such as nutrition, housing and shelter, employment, and behavioral and mental health support can onboard to Connect Oregon at no cost and will be able to connect with each other and clinical providers, sending and receiving electronic, closed-loop referrals in Unite Us’ secure, accountable network—while following their clients’ journeys beyond the walls of their own organizations and tracking outcomes. The coordination center is powered by 211info and supports community engagement. 

“The desire to drive positive outcomes and results for those individuals most vulnerable is a powerful force when combined with a solution such as Connect Oregon to support Community Information Exchange,” says Ronda Lindley-Bennett, TK of Samaritan Health Plans. “A closed-loop referral platform that offers a seamless, comprehensive, easy to use user interface is vital for efficiency in service delivery from a community perspective. Keeping the member’s whole-person care and well-being in the center of focus has driven our commitment and leadership every step of the way,” she adds. 

“I really appreciate the partnership and collaboration across Oregon with our partners to stand up Connect Oregon. Amidst both a climate of systemic racism and demand for social justice, alongside the pandemic and recent historic wildfires, we know we must, as a society, better provide for total health of all people. Connect Oregon is a step toward closing the gaps on social determinants of health, in addition to addressing the physical and mental health needs in our community. We all must own it together,” says Imelda Dacones, MD, President and CEO, Northwest Permanente, PC, Kaiser Permanente.

It’s widely accepted that 80 percent* of a person’s health is affected by social determinants of health (SDoH)–conditions in the environment in which people are born, live, work, play, worship, and age–with the remaining 20 percent attributed to medical issues. By prioritizing social services and ensuring that people’s needs are appropriately met within their own neighborhoods and communities, Oregon is on the path towards achieving health equity and improving health outcomes throughout the state. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on communities and affect employment, housing, nutritional security and other essential social needs, it’s more critical than ever for providers to have a tool to seamlessly refer to each other and account for all outcomes, ensuring that no one falls through the cracks. 

“Every time we get a referral in Unite Us and are able to connect people who need nutritional support with meals is a success,” says Jody Grant, Operations and Programs Manager for Meals on Wheels People. “Early on, we got a referral from Kaiser for a patient discharged from the hospital with COVID-19. Her husband, who also contracted COVID-19, died unexpectedly. When we delivered her meals, we called to tell her they were on her porch and checked in weekly. Once she was able to get back to cooking for herself, she told us she felt like it saved her life to have people checking in on her on a regular basis. This is the miracle of service. To serve our community best, we need partners like Unite Us to show us the people in need.”

In addition, recent demands for social justice across the nation have shed light on existing health disparities–particularly in communities of color–confirming that there is even greater need for collaborative work to provide person-centric, community-based care, that breaks down silos between providers. 

“Our work together on Connect Oregon represents the best of our commitment in Oregon to collaborate among healthcare, social services and community to truly coordinate care, with particular attention to our most vulnerable citizens,” says Greg Van Pelt, President, Oregon Health Leadership Council. ”It’s the fulfillment of our vision to cross boundaries and transform care with a focus on each person we serve, to meet them where they are and provide the services they need.”

To support these efforts, Unite Us provides a robust and proven community engagement process, hiring team members from the communities where they live and who continuously strengthen the network’s health through outreach, training and continued support. The Unite Us team relies on the expertise of local leaders and existing coalitions to build trust–those grassroots advocates who’ve been doing the work long before anyone coined the term, “social determinants of health.” This community-driven approach has been successful in over 40 states around the country. 

“Across Oregon, community-based organizations have long been helping people get the services and care they need, but in many regions, they lacked the connectivity, infrastructure and outcome data,” says Taylor Justice, President of Unite Us. “With this collective investment and alignment on the part of the healthcare sector, care coordination will become faster, seamless and trackable, and the state can move towards one connected network of social and health care service providers,” he adds. 

Connect Oregon currently serves Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Yamhill, Marion, Polk, Lincoln, Linn, Benton, Lane, and Deschutes counties in Oregon, and Clark and Cowlitz counties in southwest Washington. With these newest partners on board, there is now a commitment to serve 20 of the 36 Oregon counties through the statewide collaboration. The long-term goal is for the network to be available in every county throughout the entire state.

About OHLC:
The Oregon Health Leadership Council (formerly the Health Leadership Task Force) is a collaborative organization working to develop practical solutions that reduce the rate of increase in health care costs and premiums so health care and insurance are more affordable to people and employers in the state.  OHLC’s work with Connect Oregon reflects its stakeholder commitments to health care transformation and to addressing critical social needs for Oregonians.  

About Unite Us:
Unite Us is a technology company that builds coordinated care networks of health and social service providers. With Unite Us, providers across sectors can send and receive secure electronic referrals, track every person’s total health journey, and report on tangible outcomes across a full range of services in a centralized, cohesive, and collaborative ecosystem. Unite Us’ dedicated team builds authentic, lasting partnerships with local organizations to ensure their networks have a solid foundation, launch successfully, and continue to grow and thrive. This social infrastructure helps communities transform their ability to work together and measure impact at scale. 
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