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Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans, has committed $175,000 to advance George Mason University’s community health initiatives.
The grant, jointly supporting the Mason and Partners Clinics (MAP Clinics) and the Business for a Better World Center, will enable Mason to serve as the lead anchor partner in a collaborative initiative to remove barriers to health and expand access for residents in the Bailey’s Crossroads/Culmore neighborhood of Fairfax County.
The grant extends Kaiser Permanente’s partnership with Mason, which began in 2019 with a $500,000 investment to establish the Kaiser Permanente Community Wellness Hub in partnership with Mason’s College of Health and Human Services Population Health Center.
“Kaiser Permanente is honored to expand our partnership with George Mason University, an organization that shares our mission for improving the health of the communities we serve,” said Tonga Turner, interim executive director of Community Health at Kaiser Permanente. “Collaboration with organizations like Mason is critical to transform Northern Virginia communities such as Bailey’s Crossroads and Culmore into places where residents have equitable access to high-quality health care, nutritious food, good jobs and thriving schools.”
MAP clinics serve the uninsured and refugee community in Prince William and Fairfax counties. Located in Manassas, Springfield, and Culmore, these bridge-care model clinics provide free health care, school physicals, screenings, and mental health services for people living in low-income and medically underserved areas.
“We are excited about our continued collaboration with Kaiser Permanente in the delivery of care with attention to the social determinants of health on behalf of vulnerable populations to ensure health equity,” added Dr. Germaine Louis, dean of the College of Health and Human Services.
The grant establishes Mason as the lead partner organization in Northern Virginia for Kaiser Permanente’s Mid-Atlantic Community Network (MACN), launched in partnership with Unite Us, a shared technology platform available to community organizations to serve social health needs ranging from food access and housing assistance to workforce development and healthcare services. The MACN has launched in D.C., suburban Maryland and Greater Baltimore, and is scheduled to launch in Northern Virginia this June.
Since 2018, Kaiser Permanente has led a community-based initiative to address health disparities in the Bailey’s/Culmore community and create access to the resources people need to thrive. Local community organizations involved in the initiative include Columbia Baptist Church, the Medical Care for Children Partnership Foundation, Culmore Clinic, St. Anthony’s Parish, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and Just Neighbors, along with county leadership, local businesses and philanthropic organizations. Accomplishments have included partnering with local food pantries to deliver hundreds of pounds of food to those in-need and connecting more than 200 Bailey’s/Culmore residents with low or no-cost medical care.
Those community-based efforts will also benefit from a partnership with Mason’s Business for a Better World Center, which focuses on preparing tomorrow’s business leaders to further the common good.
“Even more than other businesses, the business of health needs to focus on the well-being of our community,” said Maury Peiperl, dean of Mason’s School of Business. “This is an opportunity to activate our substantial industry network to fuel economic development and entrepreneurship in the region. Kaiser Permanente is known as a leader for moving health forward, and partnering on this initiative is another way we are using business as a force for good.”
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, about 240,000 people in Northern Virginia were underinsured or lacked health insurance, and 160,000 lived in poverty. The pandemic has increased levels of unemployment, as well as housing and food insecurity across the region. Unemployment spiked in Fairfax County by more than 5% over the past year, and the number of county residents seeking emergency food assistance doubled.