Unite Us Community Engagement Manager Janie Belliston explains the platform during a training session, Cedar City, Utah, August 23, 2022 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News/Cedar City News
CEDAR CITY — A shared online platform that allows community health and human services providers to refer clients and match them with the resources and services they need was officially rolled out this week in four additional counties in southern Utah.
The Unite Us service is designed for this Development of coordinated supply networks in the healthcare sector and social service providers. Since the company’s inception in 2013, Unite Us now operates in 44 states.
“To date, we are active in 25 counties in Utah, and we have just four more pending,” said Janie Belliston, Unite Us Community Engagement Manager, during a training session held Tuesday for newly registered participants from the counties of Iron, Beaver , Garfield and Kane.
Approximately two dozen people attended the rollout session at the La Quinta Inn & Suites in Cedar City, with a select few participating online. Collectively, participants represented a variety of local community organizations and agencies committed to joining the network.
The four Utah counties that haven’t joined — San Juan, Uintah, Daggett and Duchesne — are scheduled to be brought online by November, Belliston added.
Utah’s rapidly growing nationwide network, officially known as Connect Us, was launched in 2019 in Washington and Weber counties through the combined efforts of the Alliance for the Determinants of Health.
“Connect Us partners are connected through a common technology platform powered by Unite Us,” the company said Alliance website said. “This platform allows network partners to send and receive secure recommendations to each other on behalf of those they serve. It also provides network partners with data on how individuals’ needs are being met and the outcomes of recommendations.”
“I think up until yesterday we had over 325 organizations across the state on the platform, which is amazing,” Belliston told attendees Tuesday.
Peggy Green, executive director of Iron County Care and Share, has helped lead efforts to bring local government and organizations together and get them on board.
“I can’t think of anything more amazing than to be able to offer our community that connection and that ability to put people where they need to be in the moment,” Green said as she welcomed attendees Tuesday. “I really appreciate everything you have done to get to this point and everything you will do in the future to bring this into your work and into your organizations.”
In her opening remarks, Belliston noted that people who need a particular resource or service often need one or more others as well.
“Assume I’m the local grocery bank working with a client,” Belliston said as an example. “As we discuss her food insecurity, she mentions that she is looking for more stable employment.”
While the food bank may not offer such job-related support directly, Belliston said: “I can make an employment recommendation and send it to the coordination center. From there, the coordination center finds the best resource and sends the recommendation directly to that partner.”
On the issue of privacy, Belliston said that no personally identifiable information is shared on the platform without customer consent and that the data is kept secure.
“Our customers’ privacy is our priority,” she said, adding that the platform is fully HIPAA compliant and HITRUST certified.
Thanks to support from Intermountain Healthcare and other local healthcare partners, the Unite Us platform is being made available to community-based organizations at no cost, said Katie Prawitt, Senior Community Engagement Manager at Unite Us.
“Unite Us is focused on elevating social care to the same level of priority as clinical care,” said a United Us press release emailed by Prawitt to Cedar City News Aug. 5. “This is hard work and not a short-term fix; it requires a long-term vision.”
“Better coordination of care will lead to better outcomes,” the press release adds, noting that the platform will help participating local organizations “support their clients and communities to access community resources in a streamlined and more coordinated manner.” .
For more information, see Unite Us website.
Local participating organizations, groups and agencies that have signed up to use the Unite Us platform include: Iron County Care and Share, Southwest Utah Public Health Department, Southwest Behavioral Health Services, Canyon Creek Services, Youth Futures Utah, SUU Community Engagement Center / HOPE Food Pantry, SUU Head Start, Iron County School District, Visit Cedar City BrianHead Tourism Center, NetGain Property Management, Family Healthcare, Cherish Families, Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness, Family Support Center, Red Rock Center for Independence , plus several programs operated by the Five County Association of Governments including Community Action Partnership, HEAT, Area Agency on Aging and Mobility Management.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, All Rights Reserved.