South Asian-American non-profit leads joint health services initiative with $700,000 innovation grant

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Leaders of several organizations in New York City, pose for a photo after receiving the $700,000 grant for a joint initiative to reach culturally responsive health services to communities, recently. From left, Rehan Mehmood, director Health Services, South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS); Israel Rocha Jr., CEO, OneCity Health; Peggy Chan, DSRIP program director, New York State Department of Health; Sudha Acharya, executive director, SACSS; Eva Kornacka, executive director, POMOC; Nathaly Rubio-Torio, executive director, Voces Latinas; Magnolia Franco, associate director of programs at YWCA. (Photo: courtesy SACSS)

The South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS), a Queens, NY-based non-profit founded by an Indian-American, announced it has received a $700,000 grant from the OneCity Health Innovation Fund to implement its project, entitled Culturally Responsive Collaborative of Queens (CRCQ).

The SACSS led by Sudha Acharya, in collaboration with several organizations, Voces Latinas, Polonians Organized to Minister to Our Community (POMOC), The Young Women’s Christian Association of Queens, Inc. (YWCA) will use the grant to “serve the diverse needs of hard-to-reach populations to increase health literacy outcomes and connection to critical healthcare services,” a press release from the SACSS, said.

“The SACSS is the lead organization in this initiative. Our contract is with OneCity Health, and we are responsible for the deliverables,” Acharya told Desi Talk. Community partnerships are an essential component of enrollment efforts to serve the geographically, culturally and economically isolated immigrant communities, she said, noting that all the other organizations as well as SACSS, are in close contact with numerous communities ranging from Indian-Americans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, to East Europeans, Polish, and Latinos.

“These organizations have been observing on a daily basis, how these communities are not well connected to health care,” Acharya said.

The CRCQ Project is designed to decrease the inequities in healthcare access and health by providing information and services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate to the target populations, promoting health literacy, connecting individuals to health insurance, and primary care, the organizations expect.

Acharya believes the support from OneCity Health will serve as a strong step toward realizing the mission of New York State’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program.

OneCity Health, the NYC Health + Hospitals Performing Provider System under New York DSRIP selected eight community partners to receive funding from its $5 million Innovation Fund to implement programs that will reduce avoidable hospitalizations, improve community health outcomes, and address social determinants of health, like food security and health literacy.

The $5M Innovation Fund was open to all OneCity Health partners, which includes more than 160 community-based organizations, hospitals, physician practices, pharmacies, behavioral health practitioners and others. OneCity Health encouraged partners to collaborate and submit joint applications, and ultimately received 41 applications from 55 partners.

“Congratulations to our partners for submitting creative ideas that cover a range of topics, from opioid dependency to improving connections to care. Their innovations will help improve the health of our patients,” Israel Rocha, CEO, OneCity Health, is quoted saying in the press release. “Each project represents two important aspects of the DSRIP program, innovation and community collaboration. These innovative solutions help to bridge the gap to a value-based payment environment, and the collaborations between our community partners demonstrate a holistic approach to creating an integrated delivery system. We look forward to helping to foster these programs over the next year and seeing their results.”

The $5M fund was one of the largest allocations set aside by a Performing Provider System across the State to support more community collaborations, innovations, and best practices.

The SACSS strives to address the diverse needs of the South Asian community.

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