Taking A New Approach - A MIHF Board Member's Perspective

Taking A New Approach - A MIHF Board Member's Perspective

By: Matt McGarvey, MIHF Board Member

Mid-Iowa Health Foundation (MIHF) has over a 30-year history of fostering innovation and being a learning organization. Direct service and core nonprofit support via traditional grant making is and will always be a hallmark of MIHF. That said, in a time of extreme change in the health sector new approaches are likely warranted to achieve different system-level impacts and changes. So much of the attention on health is focused on access to care. This is not wrong, but having an insurance card in your wallet isn’t the only measure of health. Social determinants of health, particularly for children, is a lens that forces you to look for intersections with other sectors – education, housing, work force, hunger, public safety, etc – and support new solutioning. Health may command nearly one-sixth of the gross domestic product, but an overwhelming majority of that pays for health care delivery. Again, incredibly important, but we need to look for upstream ways to impact health in preventive and proactive ways through unique, unnatural partnerships to give voice to other types of investments that positively impact health status and communities. The methodology around County Health Rankings (http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/our-approach) amplifies this more clearly. Clinical care is pivotal, but also about 20% of their overall weighting of factors impacting overall health outcomes. Other community sectors and factors have a profound impact.

It is from this perspective that MIHF Board and staff alike challenged ourselves to create the HealthConnect Fellowship Initiative. Through this effort, we’re intentionally supporting seasoned and emerging community leaders to have the time, structure, resources, coaching and tools to make an even greater difference in community. Again, this is designed to work within and across sectors to advance creative problem solving and community leadership skill development with the hope of advancing system-level changes impacting health. Though we can’t guarantee success with this type of cocooning support, we’re anxious to try this much more engaged and intentionally deeper level of commitment to individuals and organizations poised to make profound change. We will learn valuable lessons from HealthConnect that we envision shaping our philanthropic work and voice for years to come.