Chief executives from several of Minnesota’s largest health systems put a spotlight on the links between housing and health at a panel discussion sponsored by Women of Habitat and covered by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“We know inequality in housing threatens our region’s long-term growth potential,” said Susan Haigh, president and chief executive of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. “We know healthcare costs must be contained. And we know both of these abstract policy statements hit home for real low-income families every single day.”
Mary Brainerd, the chief executive of HealthPartners, said that most people may think about health as being driven by individual factors, but a lot of it depends on where they live. She said that about 40 percent of health is determined by socioeconomic factors in communities.
Kathryn Correia, chief executive at HealthEast, discussed in-home nurses’ difficult efforts to care for a patient who lived in a condemned building, then in a damp and unventilated basement room:
“There was no way they could take care of his wound, let alone the other issues, in that housing situation. They needed to do a referral for [the patient] to be able to go back institutionally to get care.”
The panelists talked about efforts to get patients better housing, such as by helping patients who have received eviction notices deal with landlords and connecting patients with housing subsidies.