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Feature Article

Population Health Offers a New Approach in Care

Together with community partners, Samaritan is taking a holistic view of “health” and “care.”

“It’s about more than giving clinical care,” said Glen Cunningham, vice president of Population Health Services at Samaritan. “It’s about looking at all aspects of a person’s health — physical, mental and emotional well-being — and making sure they have the resources to manage their care. It’s about keeping people healthy.”

Samaritan and its partners provide outreach and support in Benton, Lincoln and Linn counties. New tools are being used to analyze and respond to health needs. These include the software program, Unite Us, which links medical providers with community organizations that provide health-related services, such as food, housing and transportation.

Through its Community Health Promotion Department, Samaritan conducts comprehensive needs assessments every three years in all three counties. That information helps to establish priorities and goals that inform Samaritan’s grantmaking efforts and other community investments.

Priorities from the most recent assessment, completed in December 2019, include:

  • Food insecurity and poverty.
  • Access to medical, dental and behavioral health care.
  • Substance abuse prevention and treatment.
  • Homelessness, housing and transportation.
  • Child abuse and neglect.

“We are really focused and intentional with this funding and the services and support we provide,” said JoAnn Miller, director of Community Health Promotion at Samaritan.

Meanwhile, Samaritan Internal Medicine in Corvallis is piloting an innovative approach to caring for people with debilitating conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, insomnia and congestive heart failure. People can get one-stop help with managing their conditions by meeting with their entire care team in a 90-minute group
appointment session.

In the voluntary program, patients rotate between seeing a clinical pharmacist to review their medications and answer questions, a focused exam with the clinician to close care gaps (such as needed lab tests or missing vaccinations), and a behavioral health psychologist to talk about wellness.

“Many conditions take a multidisciplinary approach to manage,” said Kristy Jessop-Shankowski, MD, medical director of Population Health at Samaritan. “It’s something we believe in.”

Information and applications for Samaritan’s Social Accountability Grants, which are awarded each fall, can be found at