Safety net partnerships

Safety net clinics are essential community partners in our shared goal of improving the health of individuals and communities. Community-funded clinics, rural health clinics, free clinics, school-based health centers, and Federally Qualified Health Centers are vital parts of Colorado's health care safety net, providing quality care for the state's most under-resourced populations.

We're committed to supporting access to care and the safety net through a variety of ways.

Specialty care

Through our Safety Net Specialty Care Program, Kaiser Permanente specialists provide advice electronically to safety net clinics for their uninsured adult patients. The program also provides face-to-face specialty care visits for safety net patients and medical education opportunities to safety net providers. Since 2013, the program has contributed to the care of over 3,000 unique patients, many of whom would have likely sought care at an emergency department or gone without care altogether.

“The opportunity to provide broad-based medical specialty advice and select, face-to-face care for safety net patients truly aligns with Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the care of our communities” said John Riopelle, DO, Kaiser Permanente gastroenterologist. “In addition, our providers enjoy the satisfaction of caring for under-resourced populations, and delivering advice and care to help meet the needs of our local safety net partners and their patients.”

ASCENT (Access to Specialty Care Engagement Network)

We supported a cohort of grantees, called ASCENT, to increase and improve access to specialty care for low-income adults from 2018 to 2021. The Colorado Health Institute, which worked to convene and facilitate the cohort, recently published an evaluation report that highlights the cohort’s accomplishments and its recommendations for policies that would help more people access medical specialists.

We continue to support ASCENT by providing another year of funding (2021 to 2022), sharing best practices from our Safety Net Specialty Care Program, and working with the group on other practical and policy solutions.

Care Equity Project

Partnerships with safety nets are critical to providing equitable access to health care regardless of race, ethnicity, or income level. In 2011, we created the Care Equity Project to address cultural disparities during clinical visits. With increasing numbers of Americans living in poverty, the Arts Integrated Resources team collaborates with safety net partners to assist care providers in understanding the health needs and challenges of people living with limited financial resources.

Through virtual workshops, professional facilitators provide experiential activities addressing bias, culture, and social drivers of health to develop skills and promote equitable and empathetic health care delivery. The Care Equity Project brings concepts from the head to the heart using theater, personal stories, and facilitation. All programs are free to community groups along Colorado's Front Range.

VCIN (Virtual Care Innovation Network)

The 15-month Virtual Care Innovation Network program brings together safety net organizations across 9 states to redesign care so that virtual care models continue after the pandemic abates. We support this national program designed in partnership with Center for Care Innovations, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and the primary care associations in all states where we provide care.

Projects are focused on a range of populations and goals including improving telemedicine access to patients experiencing homelessness, seniors, and patients with limited English proficiency; and assisting rural patients without easy access to in-person health care services. The program started in March 2021 and will be completed in May 2022.

Safety Net Vaccine Equity Initiative

Kaiser Permanente is helping safety net patients get COVID-19 vaccinations by providing flexible grant funding to community health centers across Colorado’s service area.

The health care safety net serves roughly 28 million patients nationwide, including over 7 million patients in Kaiser Permanente’s communities. Among the patients served nationwide, 91% have low income and 63% are racial or ethnic minorities. As trusted health care providers in low-income communities, safety net clinics are well positioned to address equitable vaccination administration but need support to increase capacity.

Equitable distribution of vaccines is critical to successful pandemic recovery. Working in close collaboration with safety net partners is one of the strategies outlined in Kaiser Permanente’s recently released vaccine equity toolkit; this initiative is part of the organization’s broader effort to remove vaccination barriers that threaten to prolong the COVID-19 pandemic in communities that are already disproportionately affected by the virus. 

COVID-19 outreach campaigns

As part of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to advancing racial and health equity, we are supporting Tepeyac Community Health Center, Inner City Health Center, and Salud Family Health Centers to provide outreach to their patient communities with a comprehensive COVID-19 awareness and education campaign.

Grant funding and communications technical assistance is provided by Public Good Projects to support trusted messengers, disseminate culturally relevant information, and engage influential social media personalities.