Reshaping Health Access Challenge taps three North Florida local organizations with innovative ideas to improve health access and literacy to advance to finals

GuideWell has selected three North Florida organizations to receive seed money to implement their innovative ideas to address barriers to health access and health literacy. Episcopal Children’s Services, Gainesville Fire Rescue and I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, Inc. were selected from a group of 10 regional innovators across North Florida to receive $5,000 in funding. In addition, they will advance to GuideWell’s Reshaping Health Access challenge finals where they’ll have the opportunity to compete for a $40,000 state grand prize. Funds will be used to address health and racial inequities that exist in their respective local communities.

The three innovative ideas from North Florida organizations advancing to the finals include:

Episcopal Children’s Services: The program overcomes barriers to health access with co-located services embedded in the Head Start program including pediatric, mental health, nutrition, disability screening and services, and dental. Head Start/Early Head Start families can now access a comprehensive suite of health services co-located and embedded within the program accessed every school day for their child’s early education.

Gainesville Fire Rescue: Community Paramedicine is an emerging nationwide solution bringing health care and a community-based solution to the most difficult populations to engage. The Community Resource Paramedicine (CRP) program was developed by Gainesville Fire Rescue to address the social causes of health crises among recurrent 911 callers. CRP enrolls patients who frequently use EMS and need assistance in managing chronic diseases.

I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, Inc.: The center increases access to vital health care for medically vulnerable homeless individuals and families through mobile health, providing medical care and other health and/or social services. The I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, Inc. provides an array of services for homeless men, women and children in Jacksonville, Fla., including shelter, case management, meals and employment assistance. Sulzbacher is a Federally-Qualified Health Center (FQHC), offering primary health, dental, behavioral health, substance abuse counseling, vision services and mobile outreach.

“We want to applaud all of the applicants for their passion and commitment to developing innovative strategies that address barriers to improving health access and literacy, critical public health issues that have long existed in communities throughout Florida,” said Kirstie McCool, executive director of GuideWell Innovation. “This challenge is designed to foster innovation and collaboration while providing resources to bridge the gap in health inequities that exist within our state.”

While health care inequities in underserved populations have existed for many year, COVID-19 has shined a spotlight on the correlation between socioeconomic conditions of a community and the health of people living there.

In June, GuideWell issued the statewide challenge to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, innovators and organizations to accelerate innovative thinking and build greater health equity in Florida communities. Aside from the event in North Florida on Friday, September 11, three other regional virtual pitch events are taking place throughout the state. The three finalists from each region will be invited to present their approaches and compete for the grand prize of $40,000 at the Reshaping Health Access Challenge statewide showcase on October 28. Like the regional pitch competitions, this year’s statewide event will also be held virtually. All 12 statewide finalists will also receive a unique opportunity to attend the GuideWell Reshaping Health Access virtual town hall event on October 29, an invitation-only, collaborative gathering, bringing together experts and stakeholders from across the state and nation to focus on improving health access and literacy in Florida communities.