Social Impact

What is the RWJBarnabas Health Social Impact and Community Investment Practice?

food insecurityRWJBarnabas Health is committed to being in and of the communities we serve, and having an impact that reaches outside our doors to not only treat disease, but to help avert it, to not only provide clinical health services but to practice ‘social’ health, with an unwavering commitment to improving the health of our communities and using our resources to improve their long-term well being.

We have launched a “Social Impact and Community Investment Practice” where a collective impact approach will be a key driver of our mission and will be a lasting legacy of our organization, including addressing the social, economic and environmental conditions that contribute to poor health outcomes, reduced life expectancy and higher costs.

This work will be done in an equitable manner and will foster health-promoting environments and conditions to improve people’s quality of life. As such, we will contribute to the long-term economic and social viability of our local communities, with a specific focus on the needs of vulnerable neighborhoods.

We will use our position as an “Anchor Institution” – one that is physically entrenched in our communities as a critical economic engine and committed community partner – to enable our social impact work. Being an anchor institution obligates us to use the full range of our institutional assets – hiring, workforce development, purchasing and investing – to benefit the sustainability and vitality of the communities in which we are based.

Our initiatives will address the “social determinants of health” – conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age that create health. Social determinants include: economic stability (job opportunities and living wages), education, access to healthy food, affordable housing, and safe living and neighborhood environment.

What are we looking to accomplish?

We have launched the “Social Impact and Community Investment Practice” because building the whole health of the communities in which we operate will ensure their long-term well-being and that of their residents.

educationWe want to be an anchor for community health and vitality with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life, increasing life expectancy, and eliminating social and economic disparities.

We will work with our partners on programs and initiatives to:

  • Improve economic stability through youth workforce development and food insecurity
  • Provide education through early childhood development and family health literacy programs
  • Focus on built environments through housing revitalization, homelessness prevention and sober living programs
  • Reach globally through domestic and global health collaboratives and disaster relief

We have developed a comprehensive action framework for the above areas. You will be hearing more about these efforts as we continue our journey.

How are we doing it?

RWJBarnabas Health’s “Social Impact and Community Investment Practice” is spearheaded by Michellene Davis, Esq., Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, who works with corporate and facility leaders, as well as community partners, to address a wide variety of social determinants of health that have a significant impact on health care outcomes in the communities we serve.

Through non-traditional partnerships and innovation that build upon and extend beyond our conventional community benefit and outreach activities, we are practicing ‘social’ health, with an unwavering commitment to delivering comprehensive wellness to our local communities and using our resources to improve their economic viability and long-term well-being.

In addition, this mission is now being embedded into our core business areas including our hiring, purchasing and investing practices. RWJBarnabas Health has developed a strategy of “Hire Local, Buy Local, Invest Local.

  • We will use our purchasing power, and facilitate inclusive, local sourcing, to create and scale opportunities for our local and diverse communities to build wealth
  • We will create good jobs and clear career paths inside and outside our organization for members of our local communities
  • We will use our financial investments to lift up our local communities and neighborhoods, tackling their key social determinants of health such as education, access to healthy food, affordable housing, and safe living and neighborhood environment.

What does this mean to our communities?

Vulnerable communities are at greater risk for medical conditions and disease, in part, due to social determinants such as poor housing and transportation, lack of exercise and nutrition, unsafe streets, unemployment, and low educational attainment. The mission is to improve the health of all New Jerseyans by strategically working to foster health-promoting environments and conditions across the key social determinants of health.