L+M to invest $50,000 in New London neighborhood health initiative

New London — Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and Yale New Haven Health are investing $50,000 into two city neighborhoods as a way of addressing social factors that impact health.

The neighborhoods will be chosen from among the dozen identified in a 2016 community health assessment as having the highest rates of poverty and the lowest percentages of educational attainment.

The assessment was conducted by the Ledge Light Health District and L+M and highlights for the greater New London region the significance of social determinants of health — the conditions under which people are born and raised, work and age and the health disparities linked to income, education, housing and access to nutritious food.

Studies have shown, for instance, that lower-income and less-educated populations are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

“We’re already seeing health disparities,” said Laurel Holmes, director of community partnerships and population health at L+M Hospital.

The hospital’s contribution will be invested into prevention efforts, she said, activities specifically designed to impact social determinants of health. A community garden is one example, she said, of a way to bring people together on a social level while growing and learning about healthy foods.

People from city neighborhoods identified in the assessment will be asked what they like about their neighborhoods, what they wish they could change and ideas they have on how to make their neighborhoods better. The process of determining which neighborhoods will benefit will be tackled by a selection committee that will include both community members and youth voices, said Jeanne Milstein, the city’s director of human services.

Youth will be asked to submit their ideas through photos and essays.

“We’re very excited about this new initiative. Everyone deserves the opportunity for optimal health no matter the educational attainment, income level, disability or age,” Milstein said. “We are dedicated and really enthusiastic about improving the health of all New London residents.”

Russell Melmed, an epidemiologist with the Ledge Light Health District, said Ledge Light has obtained grants to address opioid addiction and health access but that L+M’s contribution toward this type of project is rare.

“This is an important investment as part of the partnership that we intend to sustain with the City of New London,” said Patrick L. Green, president and CEO of L+M and executive vice president of Yale New Haven Health, during a news conference at City Hall on Thursday.

“Given the enormous financial pressures facing hospitals in this state, this is a program that would not have been possible had it not been for our new affiliation with Yale New Haven Health,” he said.

The timeline for formation of a selection committee is being worked out.

g.smith@theday.com

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