Building healthier communities

At CommonSpirit Health, we know that the conditions in which our patients were born, grow, work, live and age impact their health status and our ability to effectively care for them. That’s why we partner with many different kinds of community service organizations to help us address the social and economic needs of our patients, aided by advanced technology and dedicated community health workers. Together, we can care for the whole person: body, mind and spirit.

Community involvment

Community grants and investment

CommonSpirit’s Community Investment Program offers below market rate housing loans at favorable terms to support the infrastructure for health. We also fund community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that invest in federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and provide small business loans in communities of color.

How do we know what our communities need from us? We ask them. Every three years we conduct Community Health Needs Assessments in partnership with county departments of public health and other agencies that are invested in improving health and wellbeing. To assist in this work, we employ a tool we developed called the Community Needs Index to pinpoint the areas of greatest health need by zip code.


Homeless Health Initiative

The CommonSpirit Health Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) works to co-locate, coordinate, and integrate health care, behavioral health, safety, and wellness services with housing and other social services. Across California, we have committed to invest a minimum of $20 million through FY 2024 in programs that address two focus areas:

  • Housing insecurities and homeless prevention for individuals and families who are at-risk of experiencing homelessness; and
  • Coordinating care, services, and resources for populations experiencing homelessness with local community partners and government agencies.
Food bank

COVID-19 community response

The coronavirus pandemic demanded immediate action to help people who are vulnerable and at-risk. Through October 2020, the CommonSpirit Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) has provided nearly $2.1 million to California nonprofits to increase access to food, shelter, and hygiene supplies, and to provide emergency relief funds to community members at-risk of homelessness. Due to our support, our partners have distributed 61,000 meals and 5,000 food boxes. We’ve also helped increase local food bank capacity in 9 rural communities across 8 counties and given $315,000 in direct/indirect relief for rural communities, youth experiencing homelessness and seniors at-risk of homelessness, and undocumented immigrants.

HHI is also conducting research to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on rural communities and medical respite programs.

Mother and daughter smiling

Connected Community Network

CommonSpirit Health is working with many other organizations to build networks of health care and social service that increase access to community resources for any patient in need. We call this model the Connected Community Network (CCN).

A CCN is a network of community service organizations that have the ability to make referrals using a shared technology platform among hospitals, clinics, and the social service and government agencies that provide vital services. These resources meet a variety of social and economic needs, including stable and affordable housing; maternal, infant, and child health; chronic disease management programs; healthy food; and mental health and substance abuse counseling.

Since 2017, we’ve helped assemble CCNs with our technology partner naviHealth in nineteen communities in Arizona, California, and Nevada. In 2019, we began piloting an expanded CCN approach powered by Unite Us in California’s Central Valley. And we are extending the CCN model to other communities throughout CommonSpirit.


Violence and human trafficking

Violence is an epidemic that kills tens of thousands of Americans every year and injures millions more (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). Trafficking in persons is a particular type of violence that is pervasive yet widely misunderstood. Health care workers will come into contact with an estimated 80% of human trafficking victims at some point during the course of a victim’s trafficking. We are leveraging education and humanity to save lives and make a difference in the community.

Young child laughing

Environmental sustainability

We all need clean air to breathe and clean water to drink in order to be healthy. As a health system that’s committed to improving health for all, CommonSpirit’s 137 hospitals and hundreds of care sites are achieving significant sustainability goals with concrete, practical changes. For example, CommonSpirit Health has specific goals for energy use and water consumption to be achieved by 2030. These include:

  • Reducing energy consumption 25% as measured in kBtu’s per square foot
  • Increasing the use of renewable energy by 20%
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40%
  • Reducing water consumption 25%
  • Designing and constructing new acute care buildings 15% below code required energy efficiency

We’re meeting these goals by converting all of our lighting to LED, installing solar panels, supporting municipal power utilities that are building sustainable energy capabilities, refurbishing and reconfiguring equipment to improve efficiency, and with capital investments in new technology.

Total health roadmap

Total Health Roadmap

The Total Health Roadmap helps us understand and address the impact of social determinants of health in order  to provide equitable, effective, and high-quality healthcare.

Within pioneer communities in Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky and Minnesota, we have developed a model for universal screening for social needs and the integration of community health workers in primary care teams to help individuals and families find the resources they need. What we learn from this effort informs enhanced collaborations to address needs in the fabric of our local communities.

Watch: The health of someone starts in their home