The Ritz Herald
Gretel Cacerces, right, passes out masks to those standing in line for COVID-19 testing at the Florida Department of Health in Collier County on June 7, 2020. © Lynne Sladky

Partnerships and Programs Address Social Determinants of Health Needs Throughout Florida

Sunshine Health supports community during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published on June 16, 2020

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people across Florida continue to face challenges that extend beyond medical care, including basic daily needs such as food, internet connectivity, and essential supplies. Centene and Sunshine Health are partnering with various organizations to support efforts that address these social determinants of health.

Social determinants are non-medical barriers to achieving quality health outcomes. They include socioeconomic and environmental factors such as food accessibility, employment, education, and more. Research shows that medical care accounts for approximately 10 to 20 percent of health outcomes. Social determinants account for the remaining 80 to 90 percent.

“When you’re worried about putting food on the table for your family, your long-term health isn’t at the forefront of your mind,” said Liz Miller, CEO of Centene’s Combined Florida Market. “New social determinants have arisen due to the pandemic – like being able to afford supplies to make sure your child can attend school from home. Our most vulnerable populations were being hit the hardest, and we wanted to act quickly to help our members and our communities.”

Hunger and Food Security
In partnership with Feeding America and its network of food banks, Centene and Sunshine Health contributed more than $100,000 to community food distribution sites throughout Florida. Sunshine Health also partnered with Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa and the Urban League of Broward County to support their emergency relief funds. Centene also committed to donating
1 million meals per month for 12 months across the nation.

Telehealth and other virtual communications tools have become invaluable for enabling access to healthcare during the pandemic. Sunshine Health offers Medicaid members a mobile app with timely health education alerts and the ability to securely text their care manager. The app is especially helpful for members with medication needs, questions, providers offering virtual health appointments, or available community resources to address our members’ social determinant needs. Sunshine Health added more than 7,000 providers offering telehealth during the pandemic, to increase access to care options for members.

Healthcare and Educational Supplies
To ensure Floridians have access to crucial supplies during this time of need, Sunshine Health, in coordination with Centene, donated $250,000 in $25 and $35 Walmart and Amazon gift cards to help those in need purchase essential healthcare and educational items, including diapers, over-the-counter medicines, cleaning supplies and books. Sunshine Health is delivering the cards to more than 170 community groups, such as Healthy Start of Pasco County, Jasmine Project Miami-Dade, and the Osceola Council on Aging, to distribute to those in need.

Sunshine Health also donated 50,000 masks to Federally Qualified Health Centers across the state, and 200 masks to each of Florida’s 20 Child Welfare Communicated Based Care Lead Agencies.

Sunshine Health also offers a Community Connections Help Line to connect anyone in the community with available resources. That number is1-866-775-2192.

Associate Writer