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What are community benefits?

  • Programs or activities that respond to community needs by providing treatment and/or promoting health and healing
  • Increase access to health care services and improve community health

What do we do?

  • Identify community health needs to improve the health of South Coast communities
  • Collaborate with community partners to identify, prioritize and meet those community health needs
  • Develop community benefits plan that aims to improve factors that can lead to better health, including access to quality education and employment, safe and stable housing, healthy food, and transportation

Did you know?

  • Research shows that the places that we live, work, and play are the strongest indicators of health status. People may want to be healthy, but it may be nearly impossible to do so unless they have the right resources.
  • Even neighborhoods that are geographically very close may have very different health outcomes due to differences in access to transportation to attend health appointments, stores and markets to buy affordable healthy foods, and safe areas to play and exercise.
  • Social determinants of health are these factors in people’s social and physical environments that may promote or discourage healthy behaviors.
  • Learn more about our community involvement and priority areas.

Throughout the year, we show that Southcoast Cares through collaboration with community partners to implement community benefit initiatives that address the following issues in our region:

Volunteer SouthCoast – Get Involved in Your Community!

Volunteer SouthCoast is a FREE online resource that connects people interested in volunteering with volunteer opportunities in the area. Search by your interests, availability or zip code to find the right opportunity for you. Whether you are looking to give back or need to fulfill service hours, this tool is for you!
Volunteer SouthCoast is an initiative provided by United Way of Greater Fall River, United Way of Greater New Bedford and United Way of Greater Plymouth County.

Smoking Cessation & Prevention

The South Coast region has a smoking rate that is close to double the state average, particularly in the region’s cities, Fall River and New Bedford and in the town of Wareham.

Community Health Worker Projects

Health status indicators demonstrate several significant health disparities in our region, both by racial and ethnic segmentation and by income. Financial insecurity poses a major barrier to obtaining needed health services and achieving better health. There are also perceived language barriers to care faced by residents with low levels of English proficiency.

Maternal Child Health Education and Outreach

Many segments of Southcoast Hospital Group’s service region have high rates of smoking among pregnant women and low breastfeeding rates compared to state averages. Furthermore, despite recent declines, teenage pregnancy and smoking rates in New Bedford, Fall River and Wareham are still above the state average.

Health Access Outreach

High unemployment rates in the South Coast region have led to loss of insurance coverage for many area residents. Additionally, many area residents who have state-subsidized health insurance are not aware of the renewal process. As a result, the South Coast has a higher rate of uninsured residents than the state as a whole.

Behavioral Health/Substance Use Intervention

Over the last several years, the South Coast region has seen a steady increase in the number of admissions for substance use treatment and greater than state averages for hospitalization rates due to opioid related injuries and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Additionally, South Coast residents also report higher numbers of days of “poor mental health” than the state average.

Healthy System and Environment Change

Creating healthier communities depends a great deal on the environment that people live in, which include their homes, neighborhoods and wider communities. We recognize that many chronic diseases and health problems that afflict area residents relate to risk factors such as sedentary lifestyles and high rates of smoking.  Significant health disparities exist in our region, evident in chronic disease and mortality rates. Residents in several of our communities, namely Fall River and New Bedford, often lack access to healthy nutrition such as fresh fruits and vegetables and safe and inexpensive exercise options. These communities also have extremely high rates of smoking.

Southcoast Wellness Van

Many South Coast residents lack access to regular primary and preventive health care. There is a low rate of recommended colorectal screening in our region, due to cultural and health access barriers.

Cancer Outreach

The South Coast region generally has higher rates of cancer than state averages in almost all categories of cancer, with the top three highest incidences being in breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.

Coalitions to End and Prevent Homelessness

Homelessness is a problem throughout our region, particularly in the town of Wareham where the rate of unsheltered homeless residents approach numbers in our larger cities where there is more than triple the population.

Community Benefits Reporting

Southcoast Health is committed to improving the health and wellness of the communities we serve, by identifying pressing health needs and collaborating with community partners to prioritize and meet those needs.

We are accomplishing this through:

  • Identifying the unmet health needs of the community through a needs assessment process that includes collaboration with relevant community health coalitions and networks and other community representatives and providers.
  • Prioritizing health needs and identifying which needs can most effectively be met through the resources of Southcoast Hospitals Group and its affiliated corporations, particularly the needs of the uninsured and the medically underserved who require enhanced access to care.
  • Collaborating with local health providers, human services agencies, advocacy groups and others to develop cooperative plans and programs to address pressing community health needs.
  • Developing community benefits plans that incorporate the social determinants of health framework, including environmental, social and other demographic factors that may influence health status.
  • Working with the Southcoast Health Board of Trustees the adoption of meaningful programs and services to address unmet needs and to improve the health of all members of our community.

You can also read about what we have accomplished in previous years through our Community Benefits Reports:

Community Benefits Advisory Council

The Southcoast Health Community Benefits Program is under the overall direction of the Community Benefits Advisory Council (CBAC). The CBAC meets six times annually to review and advise on activities and expenditures related to community benefits activities.

Chaired by a trustee, the CBAC includes representatives from the various communities served by Southcoast Hospitals Group and Southcoast leadership. Our community members have expertise in matters concerning the health and welfare of the community and are active members of local and regional coalitions. The CBAC represents the diversity of our region, with members who are active leaders in various cultural communities, including the Cape Verdean, Hispanic and Portuguese communities.

Current Members of the CBAC:

Alison Bettencourt
Community Benefits Specialist
Southcoast Health

Beth Perdue
Regional Executive Editor, Engagement and Community
The Standard Times

Chelsie Stephenson
Community Coordinator, Fall River WIC Nutrition Program
HealthFirst Family Center

Dennis DeMarinis
Commission for Citizens with Disabilities of New Bedford

Erik Rousseau
Southeastern Regional Transit Authority

Gaelen Adam
Librarian/Editor/Senior Research Associate
Center for Evidence Synthesis in Health
Program Manager
Brown Evidence-based Practice Center

Helena DaSilva Hughes
Executive Director
Immigrants Assistance Center

James Reid
Executive Director
The Veterans Transition House

Jamie Berberena
Community Health Worker
MA Association of Community Health Workers

Jeffery Pelletier
Executive Director
Junior Achievement of SEMA

Kathy Downey
Public Health Nurse
Town of Marion

Katlyn Auty
Director of Business Development
Southcoast Behavioral Health

Kimberly Shaver-hood
Wareham Public Schools

Lauren De Simon Johnson
Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resource Officer
Southcoast Health

Michelle Hantman
President & CEO
United Way of Greater New Bedford

Rachel Davis
Director, Community Benefits
Southcoast Health

Rev. David Lima
Executive Director
Greater New Bedford Inter-Church Council

Robert Mendes
Executive Director
Boys and Girls Club of Greater New Bedford & Wareham

Ron Ponte
Patient Family Advisory Council
Southcoast Health

Sandi Montour
Patient Family Advisory Council
Southcoast Health

Stephen Canessa
Senior Vice President, Chief Brand & Strategy Officer
Southcoast Health

Sylvia Nobre-Hilton
Chief Program Officer
Coastline Elderly Services

William Burns
Executive Director, External Affairs & Planning
Southcoast Health