W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation awards Parkland Foundation $980,000 information exchange grant
Parkland Foundation

December, 2010

Parkland Foundation was awarded a $980,000 grant from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation of Communities Foundation of Texas. The grant will fund a one-year study of the potential impact and feasibility of an information-based network connecting medical providers and social service agencies for the benefit of the most at-risk members of Dallas County.


The electronic network would allow Parkland, community sector groups, and social service agencies to share medical and social information via a secure information exchange portal. The shared information would enable network members to coordinate care for patients more effectively around both clinical and social issues (e.g., homelessness, joblessness, hunger, substance abuse). Lack of attention to the social circumstances of a patient often contribute to worsening of chronic medical conditions ultimately resulting in poor outcomes and costly medical events, such as hospitalizations.


“The main objective of this grant is to create a communication channel between Parkland and social service agencies,” said Ruben Amarasingham, MD, Director of the Center for Clinical Innovation and Associate Chief of Medicine Services at Parkland. “Our patients are their patients so we have a tremendous opportunity to align our services to improve clinical outcomes.”


A successful network could dramatically improve the health of the community as well as prevent hospital admissions and readmissions – and place Parkland among the most efficient and cost-effective public hospitals in the nation.


“The Salvation Army remains committed to establishing programs and joining collaborations which focus on addressing well identified community needs,” said Major Ward Matthews of the DFW Metroplex Command. “The work which the Parkland Foundation is embarking upon, with the generous support of the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation, has the potential to enhance the quality of support we offer our clients, especially where their well-being is concerned.”


“The grant for this feasibility study underscores our commitment to get this right,” said Amarasingham, who will lead the effort. “Most information exchange projects have a high failure rate due to inadequate planning. This project is going to specifically address legal, clinical, technical and financial issues so we can produce a national model. Our goals are to reduce resource consumption, enhance alignment and improve efficiency. We are thrilled to receive the support of the Caruth Foundation to do this important work.”


The effectiveness of a public health and hospital system in raising the overall level of health of a community is linked to that community’s ability to care for its most vulnerable members, according to Amarasingham. Regardless of health insurance status, patients with weak social support networks, housing insecurity, poverty, malnutrition, substance abuse, health illiteracy, and job loss are frequently victims of “chronic medical disasters,” he said.


Patients with more vulnerable socioeconomic issues also suffer disproportionally from poor cardiovascular, renal, pulmonary and infectious disease outcomes. Chronic conditions, if left unaddressed, result in acute patient conditions that find their way to Parkland, often in the emergency room, Amarasingham explained.


“This groundbreaking partnership between Parkland and community social service organizations has the potential to assist some of Dallas’ most vulnerable community members,” said Brent Christopher, president and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas. “We are in support of the feasibility study of Parkland’s information exchange portal. The trustees of Communities Foundation of Texas are pleased to make this grant from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation.”


To date few information exchange efforts anywhere in the U.S. have this social sector focus.


“This grant is absolutely critical to expanding access to care and reducing crippling costs,” said Ron Anderson, MD, President and CEO of Parkland Health & Hospital System. “We continue to seek projects that will not only improve the overall public health, but also transform health care strategies and delivery methods nationally.”


Community organizations who would like to learn more about the project or participate in the survey should visit www.IStandforParkland.org/caruth.


Communities Foundation of Texas

Since its founding in 1953, Communities Foundation of Texas has grown to become one of the nation’s largest community foundations. Through its work, the foundation enhances the experience and impact of charitable giving. It serves as a hub for collaboration between donors, nonprofits and other funding organizations to stimulate creative solutions to key community challenges. This is accomplished through a variety of donor-advised, designated and discretionary funds that are created by donors like the Caruths through their legacies of generosity. Communities Foundation of Texas strives to thoughtfully and effectively support its diverse donors and grantees by providing exemplary service, by demonstrating accountability, and by generating lasting impact in the community. The foundation professionally manages almost 900 component funds and has awarded over $1 billion in charitable grants.