Step into any clinic or medical facility and you are asked the familiar screening questions: How are you feeling today? What brings you in? Do you have any new symptoms or concerns?
Increasingly, Providence Oregon patients also may be asked about other aspects of their health: What is your living situation today? Are you having any barriers to meeting your health care needs? Would you like assistance with housing, food or transportation?
Since 2015, Providence in Oregon has partnered with local social service agencies to staff Community Resource Desks inside five of its clinics and hospitals, focusing on areas where social needs are highest.
Across our communities, Providence Oregon works with local partners to identify these basic social needs and employ specialists to connect people with available community resources, including for needs such as:
Housing resources and utility assistance
Signing up for health insurance and understanding your benefits
Getting appointments for food stamps, dental care, or other services
Finding nearby food pantries
As the commitment to addressing social needs grows, Providence Oregon has become more intentional about how it identifies these needs. Using a short, voluntary questionnaire, more than 50 Providence Medical Group clinics in the state now screen every patient for social determinants of health.
More teams, including Home Health and inpatient settings, are joining the effort every day. Patients who indicate social needs are immediately introduced to the Community Resource Desk or referred to other supportive services.