In the quest to build healthier tomorrows in our surrounding neighborhoods, the Foundation has focused on three big areas of need over the years:
- Providing wellness screenings and health education for underserved individuals
- Helping patients with cancer and their families maintain their emotional, physical and spiritual well-being
- Inspiring and supporting future healthcare leaders
Why these 3 pillars? Because leveraging our unique access to the time and talent of Summit Medical Group volunteer healthcare providers with our strong corporate partnerships and community resources allows us to have a meaningful impact in each of these areas.
Healthy Tomorrows Community Outreach
The rate of diabetes among low income families is rising. In New Jersey, households with incomes below $15,000 have twice the rate of diabetes as households with incomes of $50,000 or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Income, and other social factors, such as education, housing and access to healthy food, influence both the prevalence and prognosis of diabetes. Similarly, 42% of adults with a household income lower than $25,000 have high blood pressure.
If not managed effectively, diabetes and hypertension can lead to complications including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney and nerve diseases and even amputations. Low income adults are at higher risk for developing diabetes and hypertension and their complications, but they’re also more likely to encounter additional financial hurdles and barriers to accessing needed healthcare services (e.g. education, language and transportation).
Seeing this need, the Foundation formed partnerships with local food pantries where many underserved in the community were already going to receive supplemental food. The idea was to address access to nutrition, health and wellness at one location that was already a trusted resource for these families. Healthcare providers from Summit Medical Group volunteer along with the Foundation’s staff to conduct wellness screenings for pre-diabetes, diabetes and hypertension, educate food pantry clients on how to properly manage their disease and follow-up on their disease management when they return to the food pantries.
The Comfort Project
Patients being treated for cancer at Summit Medical Group Cancer Centers will have access to the best available doctors, equipment, therapies and clinical trials. But as anyone who’s dealt with cancer knows, moving on from a diagnosis and getting well takes much more than exceptional medical treatment. Scientific studies have shown that adding simple elements to care such as music and interactions with therapy animals have incredible benefits for patients, including lowered blood pressure, reduced pain, decreased anxiety and more.
The Foundation provides patients and their caregivers with free access to high-quality, complimentary programs and classes to help them manage their stress and cope with treatment … all right where they come for their medical appointments. Whether it’s live piano music in cancer center waiting areas, pet therapy for patients undergoing chemotherapy, chair yoga or Reiki, there are myriad services to help patients and caregivers strengthen their mind, body and spirit. Even the little things can make a difference – like a free healthy sandwich delivered during chemotherapy or a cart stocked with snacks, headscarves, puzzles and soft blankets. Our patient navigator trains and leads volunteers who stock an on-site resource center with up-to-date information about community resources and programs, as well as media and books to help patients and their caregivers better understand a diagnosis or treatment. All designed to help patients maintain their confidence, feel like themselves and stand tall in their fight against cancer.
Careers in Medicine
In less than 10 years, the demand for doctors will exceed the supply of highly trained medical professionals. By 2023, as the population expands and grows older, the demand for primary care physicians is expected to be 18% higher than in 2013. Despite this increased need for medical professionals, students face many barriers on the road to becoming a healthcare provider, including high education costs and lack of exposure to the variety of career options available in the healthcare field.
The Foundation is working to change that by supporting students who are seeking a career in healthcare, helping enrich their lives and those in the communities they will serve. We offer four programs to help foster this next generation of healthcare providers: Healthcare Professional For A Day, 1-on-1 Shadowing, Medical Scholars Program and the Summit Medical Group Foundation Next Generation Scholarships.