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Supporting Physical and Financial Health in Mississippi


Health Equity

Demetric Burrage, nurse at Aaron E. Henry Health Center in Clarksdale, Mississippi, is part of the health center's work to reach patients and support their physical and financial health. (Photo by Oliver Riley-Smith for Direct Relief)

Health providers screening for the social determinants of health — information about the conditions of a person’s life, from housing and transportation to access to clean air and water — is nothing new. Adding a picture of a person’s financial health and stressors, like debt burden, is a new angle.

It’s one the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center is asking about to help their patients more holistically. It’s also the goal of the center’s Health Wealth program to address financial insecurity and its direct impact on health.

The federally qualified health center is located in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and has served the community for over 40 years. The center operates 12 sites and provides medical and dental care services, behavioral health services and more. The center began the Health Wealth program after gathering input from people across six counties to hear about obstacles to health outcomes in the community. Addressing all barriers to better health, including financial ones, was listed as a need.

So clinic staff and staff from Southern Bancorp worked to modify the clinic’s social determinants of health patient screening tool by adding questions about banking status, debt burden, and other indicators of financial distress. If patients say they’re interested, they can meet with a credit counselor on-site at the clinic.

Aaron E. Henry received $100,000 from Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity, via the AbbVie Foundation, to launch the program with the goal that it serves patients across the Mississippi Delta, and could be replicated in health centers across the U.S.

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