As people celebrated the 2021 New Year, a new hashtag was plastered all over my social media: #twentytwentywon. After the unprecedented year of 2020, which gave rise to so much loss, we are all looking forward to a new year with more wins. Then, the events of January 6, 2021, reminded us that there is still a lot to be won. As we continue to look forward to a better new year, I want to take a moment to reflect on what we were able to accomplish at the Commission during 2020, before jumping into our goals for 2021.
For the Commission, the year started with the naming of a new CEO and the release of our new website and newsletter. We quickly found ourselves pivoting to respond to the community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this very challenging time, we were able to leverage our initial investment of $300,000 in a pandemic emergency response fund to raise over $2 million to support continued access to care for uninsured patients and Gateway to Better Health members. Thanks to generosity of our partners, we were able to fund COVID-19 testing in North St. Louis, outreach and education to communities that were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, telehealth support for healthcare services, and other basic needs for our underserved communities. In addition, we were able to formalize our new patient advisory board, and receive approval for a new physical function benefit for the Gateway to Better Health program.
In an unprecedented year, it is only fair that we do unprecedented things. In 2020, this community came together to secure Medicaid Expansion for our region. This change will not only bring health care to thousands of residents who deserve access to health services, but it will also keep hospitals open, create jobs, promote economic growth, and bring us one step closer to health equity.
As I mentioned previously, the implementation of Medicaid Expansion marks the end of our Gateway to Better Health program. We could not be happier to know that now our communities will have access to better, long-term, sustainable health care options.
As we look forward to this year, 2021, we are excited to work with our partners and each of you to re-envision and reshape the RHC to meet the needs of our community. While working to seamlessly transition our Gateway members to Medicaid expansion, we also will be developing a new strategic plan for the Commission and working to rebrand ourselves for the work to come. Thank you for your continued support of the RHC, and please join in the discussion of how we can become an even better organization!
Angela Fleming Brown
CEO, St. Louis Regional Health Commission