Learn how rec centers are expanding services for members through partnerships and collaborations.
With health inequities only increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found in its National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report that 40% of Black, American Indian and Alaska Native citizens received worse care than white Americans.
Brianna Barber, the executive director of the YMCA of Southern Nevada, has been working to find possible solutions to healthcare disparities throughout her career. Through establishing partnerships with other entities, she said her Y is already finding resolutions to such issues. Community rec centers around the country are finding similar success from collaborations with different organizations.
“What we are finding in the YMCA setting, which I imagine would be true to any type of community organization, is we really do allow the ability to bridge the gap between the medical provider and the community at large,” said Barber. “Through the referral process with medical providers and the financial support they can bring to a community-based organization, it’s a match made in heaven.”
One of the specific medical partnerships Barber said her Y has fostered is with SilverSummit Healthplan.
SilverSummit falls under Centene, one of the largest Medicaid-managed care organizations in the U.S. Barber said in 2023 SilverSummit will provide family memberships and summer camps at no cost to plan members, along with supporting after-school programs. Also, SilverSummit will financially support job training and workforce development at the Y for opportunities such as lifeguarding.
“They will be paying for the training and certification,” said Barber. “This is all being paid for by the insurance plan under their value-added benefits option. That’s a requirement of a managed care organization to have these benefits that increase access to care, and the YMCA offers these services. It’s amazing and revolutionary. SilverSummit is a game-changing partnership.”
For this type of specific work, Barber said her Y recently started working with an electronic wellness management company called Welld Health who is responsible for supporting the Y’s ability to maintain HIPPA compliance.
“That’s instrumental for an organization like the Y to be able to work in a large capacity with the medical community,” said Barber. “They can track health outcomes of a Y member, and they can also support data transfer. If this type of company is not involved in a large partnership, then there is not going to be validity with this type of work. It’s been the missing link for a long time.”
To capture and send specific medical information to members, Barber said her staff uses Daxko which is integrated into their membership database. However, the YMCA of Southern Nevada has additional types of partnerships to benefit members.
They recently began a collaboration with POOLCORP.
POOLCORP is one of the largest pool supplier companies in the world. Like with other YMCA locations, Barber said they back her Y by supporting the Safety Around Water program.
“They are also funding our diverse abilities program which helps folks with special needs take part in our swim lesson program for free,” she said. “We will be able to serve over 700 children from 2022 to 2023 who we wouldn’t have been able to serve otherwise. It’s under their Splash of Joy nonprofit support window that helps fund programs and supports life-saving skills.”
Barber said the YMCA of Southern Nevada also has a prosperous association with the City of Las Vegas and the City of North Las Vegas. By partnering with city government, three of the Y’s branches are in city recreational buildings.
This kind of partnership is also seen at the YMCA of Central Ohio where Brandi AL-Issa, the chief advancement and strategy officer, said the Y’s in the cities of Delaware, Reynoldsburg and Whitehall were created thanks to joint commitments with those communities.
“It was beneficial because the city can levy taxes to build a structure,” said AL-Issa. “On our end, operating community centers is our specialty. We are bringing in a lot of foundational pieces needed to run a community center. It’s good for the Y because we don’t have to build the center, and it’s good for the city because they don’t have to run the facility.”
When it comes to creating partnerships, AL-Issa advised other community rec leaders to first establish strong relationships with outside entities who have similar goals and shared interests.
“Partnerships have really unlocked our future as we know it today,” said AL-Issa. “It’s very expensive maintaining an organization on your own. It just makes sense to collaborate. It cuts around any bureaucracy to achieve a greater good. When we can put our expertise together to grow programming and space, it helps everyone in the best way possible.”
Like the YMCA of Southern Nevada, the YMCA of Central Ohio also has collaborations with healthcare entities. The Reynoldsburg branch is co-located with OhioHealth which has been a partner in many of the Y’s preventative care programs.
“They are bringing in that expertise to design or administer the programming,” said AL-Issa. “Also, we have used OhioHealth messaging and branding to share important tips to our community.”
Barber said the long-term goal of medical partnerships is to write in programming as a billable service. But before aiming for such lofty goals, it may be better to first establish smaller partnerships that can quickly make an impact.
“It really does take intention,” said Barber. “Many conversations to create partnerships have been in play for years. If you are another YMCA fitness director and you oversee health and wellness, the conversations have to start with your supervisor and then your supervisor’s supervisor. If there is not support for this from the top-down, it will not happen.”
The benefits of partnerships and collaborations with outside organizations are wide-ranging at the YMCA of Southern Nevada, but for Barber, the big-picture goal is to find even more partners who see the value of the Y’s mission to improve health outcomes.
“Community-based organizations that have programs increasing access to care will help solve some of the medical and insurance problems we have in this country,” said Barber. “I encourage my colleagues out there to think big. There are a million different ways we can work together. It’s mission-based work. The more we do together, the quicker we are going to start seeing some huge changes in how our healthcare system is run.”
Photos courtesy of YMCA of Southern Nevada.
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