Courtesy of
Courtesy of


Providence Health System is embarking on a bold journey to address health disparities in the District of Columbia, particularly in its northeast communities.

The new Providence will look to transform the way care is delivered in the District with a new community-focused perspective that provides other types of needed services, such as care coordination, telehealth/virtual care, primary and urgent care, home care, community-based behavioral healthcare, senior care and more. The effort will sustain Providence for generations to come while improving the health of the community it is privileged to serve.

Providence Health System recently announced its decision to transition out of acute care services by December 2018 so that it can shift its focus to leading the collaborative work to create a model that will keep health at the center, remove the obstacles and barriers to a healthy life for all, and better meet the needs of a changing and growing community.

Recognizing the many factors that have led to gaps in services that impact our community’s well-being – including significant income and health disparities, and social determinants of health beyond healthcare – Providence is evolving to meet the changing needs of the District.

Some studies show that healthcare accounts for only 20 percent of a person’s overall health. The remaining 80 percent is dependent on their socioeconomic, physical environment and health behaviors such as diet, tobacco and alcohol use.

“That is where the greatest opportunity to make meaningful change exists,” said Keith Vander Kolk, Health System President and CEO. “We must put our focus and energy on advancing a model of transformation that will serve the District in new and lasting ways.”

Innovative health systems across the country are finding ways to address these broader issues to improve the overall health of their communities.

While healthcare providers are prepared to restore health when a patient visits their healthcare facilities, population health is created through social, economic and environmental factors as well as human behaviors. These social determinants of health ultimately impact the community’s health outcomes. Exploring expansion of services that address these issues is a key contributor to establishing a sustainable Providence presence in the District.

Last month, Providence began holding internal and external listening sessions with associates and members of the community to provide their thoughts on the future of Providence following implementation of the announced decision. Multiple transition teams representing associates and physicians are working to define transition plans for the future state of Providence. Providence is also working with the DC Department of Health and other healthcare institutions.

“Over the years, Providence has adapted to the changing needs of the community,” said Vander Kolk. “Our future transformation is a continuation of that legacy and our commitment to serve the community where and how we are most needed.”

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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