"It would be my ideal that everyone has an opportunity to achieve their best health and they all have the resources available to do that."
Social determinants of health that affect people in the community include food insecurity, health care access, transportation, environmental concerns, economics, and more.
For people in underserved communities, social determinants of health can have a negative effect on their wellness. For example, if someone doesn't have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, it could affect their diet and nutrition — and potentially their health.
McKeesport, Pa., in partnership with UPMC and other community organizations, recently received a $125,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address social determinants of health.
Tracey Conti, MD, chair, UPMC Family Medicine, discussed the grant and social determinants of health in an interview with Tube City Online Radio.
"Studies have shown when you look at someone's health, the amount of influence that a physician or medicine in general have on that patient is only 20%," Dr. Conti said.
"And so all of the other aspects of their health — their economic stability, their access to education, where they live in their neighborhoods, their built-in environments, who are the people around them, their social contacts, their community — play a much, much larger role."
The $125,000 grant is part of the CDC's Closing the Gap with Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Plans program. The purpose of the program is to address social determinants of health and improve the community's long-term health outcomes.
A broad coalition of community organizations will work to meet that goal in McKeesport. The coalition includes UPMC McKeesport, UPMC Health Insurances Division, UPMC Western Behavioral Health at Mon Yough, and UPMC Latterman Family Health Center. They will work with other community leaders to create a long-term plan to improve food insecurity, health care access, and long-term health outcomes.
"There's such a richness in the community organizations being brought together to share ideas, to see where there are overlapping services that we can really work well with, but also identify where are there gaps?" Dr. Conti said. "I think the broad range of those community organizations are going to be very fruitful in this effort to really improve McKeesport's outcomes."
McKeesport was one of 15 cities nationwide to receive funding through the CDC's grant program in 2023. Social determinants of health that affect people in the community include food insecurity, health care access, transportation, environmental concerns, economics, and more.
"What this grant helps us as a community do (is) come together to think about all the aspects and pull the resources together to say, 'This is what we can do as a unit to improve the overall health of the community,'" Dr. Conti said.
“The love, the investment that everyone brings to the community to help improve just can't be matched. To work in that environment, to work with a group of people who just want to have the best outcome for everyone, is just refreshing. The opportunity to be a part of that and to represent UPMC is a highlight in my career."
The coalition will seek input from the community as it develops its plan to address the social determinants of health.
Dr. Conti believes this grant is just the beginning. Improving social determinants of health — addressing food insecurity, making health care more easily accessible, and more — can create a more healthy community in the long term.
"It would be my ideal that everyone has an opportunity to achieve their best health and they all have the resources available to do that," Dr. Conti said. "I believe that we can see that come to fruition in McKeesport. It is going to take all of us working together for that better McKeesport to do this, but I absolutely believe it's possible."
At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means working together for the good of the community.
Working in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and a wide range of community organizations, we are committed to improving the health of the communities we serve.
Life Changing Medicine at UPMC is made possible every day through the generosity of numerous individuals, corporations and foundations.
With volunteers ranging from teens to seniors and options involving office work or patient care, there's a place for all qualifying volunteers at nearly two dozen UPMC hospitals.