RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH), along with members of the Healthcare Anchor Network, announced on Tuesday their progress in addressing the social determinants of health during a press briefing discussing how the Social Impact Community Investment Practice utilizes and leverages local resources to positively impact jobs, training, small businesses and community development.
With a fully-integrated approach to hire, buy and invest in the local communities in which they serve, RWJBarnabas said that it would continue to improve health and wellness by addressing the full continuum of health care disparities in disadvantaged communities.
Citing Newark as a city with a higher rate of unemployment than the state’s average, RWJBH joined forces with a policy partner who determined that the city’s unemployment gap could be closed by the year 2020 by hiring 2,020 residents. So, RWJBH joined other major corporations to close the gap.
To date, RWJBH said it has hired 350 under or unemployed Newarkers.
“We did this not alone,” said Michellene Davis, executive vice president, chief corporate affairs officer, RWJBH. “It took a partnership with Rutgers University School of Business and the Newark Economic Development Corp. to ensure that we were creating new urban entrepreneurs who hopefully will remain in the City of Newark and help to build community wealth. We included this same methodology as we took a look at buying locally and ensuring that we were also creating connections and building capacity with businesses in our local footprint,” Davis said.
One example of this can be seen through RWJBH’s contracting a former hospital orderly who noticed a high rate of “fall calls” due to poor-quality patient socks. During his off hours, he created high-quality sock prototypes, eventually connected with hospital leadership, and became a sock vendor for RWJBH and others. Additionally, he reduced the city’s unemployment rate by hiring other Newark residents, according to RWJBH.
RWJBH treats two-thirds of New Jersey’s nearly nine million population and has shifted internal policies and priorities to fully embrace their anchor mission.
The company said it has become much more inclusive in its hiring strategies to ensure true equity and has also established internal pipelines for upward mobility and community wealth. An example is the reviewing of job descriptions to ensure that they are written equitably—i.e. not requiring a master’s degree in library science to become a file clerk.
Additionally, RWJBarnabas is part of the Newark Anchor Collaborative, a network of institutions based in the Greater Newark region, which have inextricable ties to the future and success of the city of Newark and its residents.