Bridges to Health & Healthcare: New Solutions to Improve Access and Services

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New book highlights steps to improved patient care, reducing health disparities and costs in health and healthcare

Bridges to Healthcare - aha Process

Bridges to Health and Healthcare: New solutions for improving access and services provides a fresh opportunity to improve health outcomes.

Bridges is important at every level within our organization—and not just for the direct caregivers…Bridges has offered Ellis fiscal sustainability that is budget-neutral.

The costs of health and healthcare are increasing annually in the United States and it is not likely to be fully solved with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Healthcare costs are at an all-time high, and across the country, hospitals in small towns, thriving cities and rural areas have similar problems: struggling hospitals are shutting their doors leaving communities underserved and causing overcrowding at other hospitals. Can hospitals survive the fiscal challenges while offering the best healthcare opportunities for everyone in their community regardless of education and socioeconomic status? And can communities and legislative groups create environments and policy that reduce population health disparities?

A new book, Bridges to Health and Healthcare, by Ruby K. Payne PhD, Terie Dreussi-Smith MAEd, Lucy Shaw MBA and Jan Young DNSc (aha! Process; June, 2014), uses the Bridges Out of Poverty’s framework to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be an underserved American, and offers up prototypes for successful healthcare initiatives with breakthrough approaches that have successfully improved access and services for all. Health and healthcare providers now have to find ways to fund their own survival. To do that requires a new way of thinking about and serving patients across economic classes. Bridges to Health and Healthcare assumes that efficacy is the common goal for everyone – the patient, the institution and the community. A common goal that can only be achieved in an environment of mutual trust and cooperation between providers and patients from across the socioeconomic spectrum, Bridges to Health and Healthcare provides a common language for consensus building around this common goal. Each of the seven chapters features progressive lessons and positive outcomes for health and healthcare organizations to invite a dialogue with their patients and other hospitals for a collective impact approach for great health and profitable healthcare.

Many communities around the world are now building high-achieving environments using the Bridges Out of Poverty method and framework. It has been applied to school districts, social service agencies, businesses, and now healthcare institutions and communities. In their work, Bridges practitioners focus on the daily reality of generational poverty – minimally understood by most institutions and practitioners. This issue has huge consequences for patient care and serving the underserved, hospital accountability to meet Federal standards, and an institution’s bottom line. It also has significant meaning for public health groups seeking to reduce disparities by using collective impact to improve community cohesion and environments.

Bridges to Health and Healthcare is a blending of some of the best practices for addressing health and healthcare disparities. “Bridges is not just another thing,” said Kellie Valenti, Vice President of Strategic Planning and Program Development at Ellis Medicine, “Bridges is important at every level within our organization—and not just for the direct caregivers…Bridges has offered Ellis fiscal sustainability that is budget-neutral: It’s an easy sell.” Case studies of successful healthcare outcomes are offered including:

  • Children’s Hospital (Boston, MA) - Children’s Hospital recognized a very big problem affecting children in their inner city: asthma. Administrators started a project focusing on kids with the most severe asthma attacks who either came to the emergency room or were admitted to the hospital. To make this project successful, administrators worked with insurance providers like Blue Cross and Medicare to negotiate the reimbursement system making the profitability acceptable on both sides while providing the best care to at risk children. (Page 75)
  • Ellis Medicine (Schenectady, NY) – Ellis Medicine wanted a clearer vision of the needs of the under-resourced patient population so they set out to develop a Mental Model of Poverty for Schenectady. Administrators opted for a system wide redesign. The primary strategy was to develop new perspectives and procedures so that patients in poverty would be “heard” by their caregivers, just as patients who are better off engage in positive relational experiences with clinical caregivers, insurance enrollment staff, and so on. (Page 77)
  • Ohio State University Institute of Poverty Solutions (Columbus, OH) - The Ohio State University Institute of Poverty Solutions Collaborative is incorporating aspects of the Bridges model into its multi-disciplinary process to reduce poverty and improve wellness for at-risk groups in central Ohio. The Institute created several initiatives that engaged patients in poverty who were either uninsured or on Medicaid and were deemed successful in improving health and reducing poverty at some level for those involved. (Page 127)

The daily reality of generational poverty is minimally understood by most institutions and practitioners because it often isn’t articulated in a way that can be comprehended, even by well-educated individuals. Policy and law tend to be made by individuals far removed from the reality of generational poverty. Bridges to Health and Healthcare identifies many of the root causes that prevent the desired health outcomes. In addition, the United States tends to see socioeconomic class in terms of one resource: money. This book will introduce the concept of class as a set of nine resources. The stability or instability of resources impact health outcomes significantly.

Bridges Out of Poverty, from aha! Process, Inc. is a model for economic and social change, sustainability, and stability. Through workshops, books, and strategic consulting, Bridges constructs a framework to inspire innovative solutions to counter poverty and its impact on all levels of society within a community. This approach helps employers, higher education professionals, community organizations, social service agencies, hospitals, courts, and others to address poverty in comprehensive and innovative ways. For more information about aha! Process, please visit

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Dr. Ruby K. Payne, PhD is the founder of aha! Process and an author, speaker, publisher, and career educator. She is a leading expert on the mindsets of economic class and on crossing socioeconomic lines in education and work. Recognized internationally for her foundational book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, now in its 5th revised edition (1996, 2013) which has sold more than 1,500,000 copies, Dr. Payne has helped students and adults of all economic backgrounds achieve academic, professional, and personal success.

Terie Dreussi-Smith, MAEd, is an educator, trainer, consultant, and author who formerly worked as a public school teacher and adjunct faculty member for several colleges. In 1996 she was one of the first professionals to adapt Ruby Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty from K–12 education to community environments and social service settings. Ms. Dreussi-Smith is the co-author of Bridges Out of Poverty (1999).

Lucy Y. Shaw, MBA, is a senior-level executive with a master’s degree in business administration. She has progressive leadership experience in both healthcare and banking. Ms. Shaw rose through the ranks from bedside nursing in one of the largest and most prestigious private hospitals in the world to the position of president and CEO at The Regional Medical Center of Memphis (The Med), a “safety net” hospital with four world-class centers of excellence.

Dr. Jan Young, DNSc, executive director of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, TN, has had a distinguished career in healthcare, education, the military and philanthropy. As a nurse, she served as a clinician, administrator, educator, and researcher with a primary career focus in clinical and administrative practice.

BRIDGES TO HEALTH AND HEALTHCARE: New Solutions to Improving Access and Services
Published by aha! Process
Publication date: June 16, 2014; Price: $25.00;     Pages: 214
ISBN # 978-1-938248-34-4

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