Each year, there are thousands of people in Louisiana who show up in emergency rooms who face housing issues, food insecurity, transportation issues and more. Some set of these individuals need mental health treatment or other community resources that aren’t available at the hospital but requires follow up after they leave the hospital to address underlying issues. Given these challenges and many others, it is extremely likely that these folks will  end up back in the emergency room unless they receive additional support and intervention. After all, if you don’t have enough to eat or a stable place to rest, it’s unlikely that you will be able to heal let alone scheduling needed follow up appointments and seeking follow up resources.

A few years ago, we invested in a pilot of a program called The Beacon Project to help address this challenge. The idea was to look at patients’ needs beyond the health crises that landed them in emergency rooms and to connect them with social services and community supports to ensure that they have the best shot at truly getting better while also getting the appropriate care necessary to avoid future ER visits.

The Beacon Project was a collaboration between 232-HELP, the Justice + Health Collaborative, Lafayette General, Our Lady of Lourdes and others. The results from the pilot were incredibly promising – patients experienced dramatically improved outcomes, hospitals saw significant savings and community partners were better able to leverage the resources they had to serve community needs. This experience led the organizers to found their own nonprofit Beacon Community Connections, which is now working to help hospitals and other healthcare providers take the lessons they learned through the Beacon Project and route even more patients to the community supports they need.

We’ve seen the success of these sorts of models across the country and were glad to see leaders in Lafayette step forward to pilot such an effort here in Louisiana. With strong results in hand, we believe that this kind of community care navigation can be a powerful way for communities to address the social determinants of health that complicate the health for many. As other regions bring these services online, we hope to see similar powerful results for patients.

– Michael Tipton
President, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation
Head of Community Relations


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