TidalHealth, Chesapeake Housing Mission and Health Departments partner to improve housing and health in Wicomico and Somerset Counties

April 8, 2022: The leading cause of injury to people over 65, which often leads to hospitalization and even death, are falls. The environment where we live has a major impact on our health and safety, especially for seniors. This is where prevention becomes critical to allow them to Age in Place safely.

According to Beacon, the Business Economic and Community Outreach Network at Salisbury University, we have over 11,000 families living below the poverty level in single-family homes in Wicomico and Somerset Counties who cannot afford to keep their homes warm, safe and dry.

TidalHealth, Chesapeake Housing Mission (CHM) and the Wicomico and Somerset Health Departments each have the health of safety of community residents and families in the missions, visions and values that guide and define their organizations.

The four recently signed a three-year memorandum of understanding to form the Healthy Homes Initiative (HHI), a collaboration that is dedicated to improving living conditions for poverty level residents in the two counties. The goals include allowing residents to safely remain in their homes, reduce the risk of falls and other health conditions, increase access to health and wellness services, reduce hospital visits and admissions and improve their overall quality of life.

“We know that safe and affordable housing is one of the key social determinants of health and for many families in our region at or below the poverty line, as essential as access to health services,” said Steve Leonard, Ph.D., MBA, FACHE, President and CEO of TidalHealth. “Reducing the risks and exposures associated with substandard housing, while improving a person or a family’s living conditions, can positively influence health choices and outcomes through which structural determinants operate.”

“We have been working with TidalHealth for several years to reduce hospitalization of seniors, this HHI brings our organizations together to improve our effectiveness and focus,” said Don Taylor, CHM Director of Development.

Working with TidalHealth and the health departments, Chesapeake Housing Mission will do critical home repair and will develop a home safety assessment training program for partners to identify families in need as they are encountered. Referrals to CHM will be provided by TidalHealth, Somerset County Health Department and Wicomico County Health Department based on those assessments.

“We have worked with CHM to focus on aging in place for our low income senior population. Identifying needed home repairs and working with CHM to get them completed on is key to keeping this population safe and in their homes,” added Lori Brewster, Health Officer for Wicomico County.

“We value our partnership with TidalHealth and CHM as we work together to keep our residents safe and more independent in their homes,” said Danielle Weber, Health Officer for Somerset County.

CHM, which is committed to warmer, safer, drier, and healthier homes for community residents, will assume the lead and will provide the design, materials and obtain the permits for all renovation projects.

“Our Healthy Homes Initiative (HHI) allows our organizations to come together to focus on the most critical needs,” said Dave Mayonado, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CHM”

TidalHealth will provide $25,000 annually to CHM in support of the Healthy Homes Initiative in 2022, 2023 and 2024. Team members of the health system or community teams sponsored by TidalHealth will also participate on a minimum of four home renovation projects each year in Wicomico and Somerset Counties.

CHM will follow up with residents six months after renovations have been completed. They will obtain ongoing information like incidence of falls, emergency department visits and hospitalizations to determine the success of the program. TidalHealth will be provided that information and track the data through its health information exchange network to Identify if any additional health and wellness services are required.

The Healthy Homes Initiative collaborative is effective immediately and work is underway on the lower shore.

Photo Cutline: TidalHealth, Chesapeake Housing Mission, Somerset County Health Department and Wicomico County Health Department have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate to improve housing and health conditions in Wicomico and Somerset Counties. In the photo are, from the left, Dr. Cynthia Calixte, Deputy Health Officer, Wicomico County Health Department; Shannon Frey, Director, Behavioral Health Authority, Somerset County Health Department; Don Taylor, Director of Development, Chesapeake Housing Mission; Dr. Steve Leonard, President/CEO, TidalHealth; Michael Franklin, Executive Director, Chesapeake Housing Mission and David Mayonado, Chairman of the Board, Chesapeake Housing Mission

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