‘Aunt Bertha’ Search Tool Begins Helping New Jersey Communities Easily Access Social Services to Promote Wellness

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Quality Institute’s Mayors Wellness Campaign, supported by United Health Foundation, Working with ‘Aunt Bertha’ To List All Services in One Place Online

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Often a doctor or a social worker may know that what a person really needs is a place to live, or better nutrition, or job training. But finding the right services to help them is not always easy.

A community’s resources — from food banks to job training to low-cost housing — have little value if people don’t know about them.

That’s why the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute’s Mayors Wellness Campaign, supported by the United Health Foundation, is working to bring “Aunt Bertha” to three New Jersey communities.

Aunt Bertha is a social services search tool that allows health care providers, social workers and residents to more easily find the services available right in their own communities. The highly specific search tool allows people to search based on eligibility criteria such as age and income. The tool also lists up-to-date hours, contact information and other resources on a website that’s easy to navigate.

The Mayors Wellness Campaign has partnered with the United Health Foundation to bring Aunt Bertha to Jersey City, Cumberland County and Trenton. The Aunt Bertha search tool is complete in Jersey City and Cumberland County and continues to be refined for residents in Trenton.

“Often a doctor or a social worker may know that what a person really needs is a place to live, or better nutrition, or job training. But finding the right services to help them is not always easy,” said Linda Schwimmer, President and CEO of the Quality Institute. “Instead of making a dozen phone calls, now people in these communities can seek help from Aunt Bertha.”

Social workers and health care providers can also “prescribe” services to a client or patient by using Aunt Bertha to send a direct referral on behalf of a patient or client. The site will continually be updated.

Anyone who logs on to AuntBertha.com can enter a zip code. A Jersey City zip code, for instance, shows that more than 900 programs are available to serve residents. The user can click “food” and see programs such as those for nutritional education, free meals, food pantries and food delivery. Users can select other choices, such as transportation, legal help, education and work. The Quality Institute and community partners are working with Aunt Bertha to create these comprehensive listings for Trenton, Jersey City and Cumberland County.

“We know that promoting health is more than a visit to the doctor, but also includes housing, transportation, food, parks, education, culture, jobs, safe spaces and more,” said Susan Walsh, Vice President of Population Health and ACO Medical Director at Jersey City Medical Center.

“We are delighted that the Aunt Bertha data base will be available to the residents of Jersey City. This program will provide timely and updated resources available to our shared populations to help break down barriers to healthier lives,” she said.

Listings are available in more than 100 languages.

The Mayors Wellness Campaign partners with more than two-thirds of New Jersey municipalities to give mayors tools and strategies to promote health and active living and to improve the overall health of communities.

“The Aunt Bertha tool will bring immense value to the citizens of Cumberland County by ensuring that everyone is aware of the resources and assistance available,” said Megan Sheppard, Health Office for the Cumberland County Health Department. “Aunt Bertha will guarantee that clients get the help they need in a timely manner as well as allow workers from all agencies to effectively communicate with each other. We appreciate this tool we have been afforded by our partnership with the United Health Foundation and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute.”

The Mayors Wellness Campaign, through a $550,000 United Health Foundation grant, is working intensively with three of these communities: Trenton, Cumberland County and Jersey City. The Aunt Bertha initiative is part of the project to improve health outcomes in these communities. The partners in Jersey City are the Jersey City Department of Health and Jersey City Medical Center. In Cumberland County, the project partners are the Cumberland County Health Department and Inspira Health Network. The Trenton Health Team is the project partner in Trenton.

In Cumberland County, training already has begun to educate patient navigators and staff from Inspira on how to best use the site. Training for school professionals also is planned.

About New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute
The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute is the only independent, nonpartisan, multi-stakeholder advocate for health care quality in New Jersey. The Quality Institute’s mission is to undertake projects and promote system changes that ensure that quality, safety, accountability and cost-containment are closely linked to the delivery of health care services in New Jersey. The Quality Institute partnered with the NJ League of Municipalities to create the Mayors Wellness Campaign, a program that empowers mayors across NJ with tools, strategies, and support to champion health and wellness in their communities.

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