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When Social Needs Are Health Needs

New Health Leads services at UH connect patients to needed resources

Innovations in Pediatrics - Summer 2016 - View Full PDF

Meeting patients’ social needs is increasingly recognized as an essential part of improving their overall health. In recognition of this important trend, University Hospitals is teaming up with the group Health Leads to connect patients with local resources that can improve their health and meet their needs, including food, utilities, transportation and insurance benefits.

The initial phase of the multiyear collaboration includes in-clinic social needs services in the pediatric and women’s health clinics at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital. Using Health Leads tools, technology and on-site direct services, the UH clinics connect patients to local resources as a standard part of providing the highest-quality care.

“Without a doubt, health care providers today will be more effective and truer to our missions if we can better understand and address the nonmedical factors impacting the lives and health of our patients,” says Patti DePompei, RN, MSN, President of UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital. “Our strategic alliance with Health Leads gives us not only the tools and insights to deliver a comprehensive social needs program, but also the leadership and innovation to continually strengthen our commitment to keep our communities healthy.”

A dedicated social needs team – including a program manager and 20 to 25 student advocates from Case Western Reserve University and other local universities – will work closely with patients to identify needs, make connections to resources in their area and conduct follow up.

UH and Health Leads are hopeful that this initial program will lay the groundwork for the potential integration of a social needs strategy institution-wide, with a goal to innovate around initiatives such as technology and tools, program evaluation, clinician and staff education, and new models of social needs service delivery.

For UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital, the Health Leads partnership is an extension of their ongoing investment in new services and programs designed with a focus on prevention, total health and wellness including Healthy Harvest, Centering Pregnancy and the UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital dental clinic. The hospitals are preparing for the groundbreaking of a new health center, UH Rainbow Center for Women & Children, in Cleveland’s Midtown neighborhood.

For more information about the UH-Health Leads collaboration, email