Baylor Scott & White Health Hosts Inaugural ‘Connecting the Dots’ Symposium

Baylor Scott & White Health recently hosted 182 people for the “Connecting the Dots” Symposium at its Irving Medical Center. For this inaugural event, 27 organizations from across Dallas, Tarrant, and Denton counties gathered to discuss how to “improve care, quality, and lives of patients” in the Dallas-Fort Worth community through relationship- and connection-building processes.

Niki Shah, system vice president of care redesign and equitable care at Baylor Scott & White Health, says she thought of the idea while driving back from Waco offices working on these issues. “I was constantly commuting … working back and forth … and driving back I realized, ‘Why don’t we just bring these organizations together and talk?'” Shah told D CEO Healthcare. “It was such a simple solution.”

The organizations were selected based on survey feedback from Baylor Scott & White Health community health workers and case management staff on how the groups connected regularly to refer patients, other organizations they wanted to connect with, and organizations they had difficulty connecting with. The 27 chosen groups represented food insecurity and support, housing, job placement, mental health, child care, and faith-based organizations. “The purpose of this symposium is to build connections, think creatively, and figure out how to leverage each others’ resources to serve the population’s needs,” Shah said.

The event featured Cindy Schamp, president at Baylor Scott & White Irving, Ken Goodgames, CEO of Community Council, and Shah, who spoke on the importance of raising awareness on social determinants influencing health in the community. Kathrine Lindholm from North Texas Food Bank and Barbara Ewen from the Tarrant Area Food Bank also gave a joint presentation, emphasizing the impact of food insecurity on overall health, wellness, and well-being on populations.

“Connecting the Dots” also covered eight interactive case studies featuring medically and socially complex issues such as those going through gender reassignment surgery, multiracial and culturally diverse patients, and more. Shah believes by exemplifying a few cases that community health and social workers manage every day, thoughtful discussion and problem solving can occur to resolve the issues. “By analyzing cases, we can figure out how does this affect their care,” Shah said. “[We can determine] how to integrate these different views and beliefs and address them appropriately. From these solutions, we can later come up with a small informational pilots that hopefully will create an informational change.”

At this event, faith-based organizations were specifically chosen, not only because Baylor Scott & White Health is a faith-based health system, but because it can help build community leverage. “Faith-based groups are usually patients’ first line of defense when issues [like food insecurity, mental health, job placement] arise,” Shah said. “By partnering with them, we not only get insight, but the faith-based organizations can also get further educated and have the ability to better partner and avoid patients falling through the cracks.”

She hopes that through relationship-building between organizations and health systems, piloted solutions can be made and eventually scaled to positively change the community’s population health. “The pilot programs could possibly create the ability to duplicate programs in our Medicare populations and hopefully across the system,” Shah said. “If it scales successfully … it [would be]super gratifying to see that these solutions are translatable.”

Dr. Brad Schwall, executive director of the Pastoral Counseling Center in Dallas, believes the symposium was productive and prompted the start of innovative problem-solving for some of these issues in DFW. ‚ÄúCollaboration is the key to quality, holistic care,” he said in a statement. “We made connections with organizations relevant to our work providing psychotherapy and psychological services. Working together, we can make a collective and greater impact.”

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