Community Information Exchange’s Impact on our Region

Our neighbors face daily challenges across our region, from socioeconomic factors around education, income and community safety, to access to health care, that is why United Way of Greater St. Louis (UWGSL) continues to help 1 million people each year. One of the key components of us helping our neighbors thrive is the Community Information Exchange (CIE) initiative. 

In 2018, UWGSL created CIE which is a network of local nonprofit agencies and healthcare providers who work together to address social determinants of health such as lack of economic mobility, access to quality healthcare, and more using a shared technology platform and desire to proactively share and connect health and social services.

CIE is an extension of UWGSL’s 211 helpline.  Before 211 was initiated in 2007, a person seeking help needed to contact multiple sources for each of their needs. Now, if someone enrolls into the CIE looking for a local food pantry, they can be routed electronically through a system of referrals and care. This way we can address the issue of food insecurity as well as the root causes of it, such as job loss, lack of opportunity, health issues, etc.

Karen Bradshaw, Regional Director of Community Healthcare at SSM Health said their partnerships, particularly with UWGSL, are valuable in reaching our common goal of making sure people have access to quality care.

“United Way has served an incredibly important role of keeping CIE going because change for individuals, organizations and systems do not always come easy,” said Karen. “For generations, we’ve had a system of organizations, hospitals, or healthcare systems that operated separately, so trying to do that in a new way is not magic, its bumpy. But United Way continues to say, ‘Keep going, lets keep coming back and talking about this, and that’s really important.”

Ensuring the effectiveness of CIE requires contributions and insights from everyone involved. As of last year, 3,360 CIE partner agency users collaborated across 742 programs and the St. Louis region’s four major hospital systems.

Having discussions about CIE is crucial to keep this momentum going, and last month, UWGSL and partners gathered at St. Louis Community College for a CIE Partner Summit. The purpose of the Summit was to bring together front-line CIE users from social care and healthcare organizations to build on our relationships and learn how we can better work together to help meet the needs of the community.

The focus was about the importance of eliminating barriers to proper healthcare for our region’s underserved. The Summit featured a keynote address from Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, City of St. Louis Health Commissioner, who spoke about some of the history of healthcare disparities throughout the St. Louis region and how we can work to bridge that gap. There were also various breakout sessions where several CIE leaders spoke about how to build unity with each other in addressing healthcare crises.

Karen said the comradery, fellowship and exchange of substantive ideas through events like these will have a resounding, positive impact on the communities, patients and clients that CIE serves.

“There’s something special about being in a shared space together. After COVID, so many of us were working remotely and only saw each other through boxes on a screen,” said Karen. “To have places and spaces like this to come together, bring different perspectives, have important conversations, and just have real relationships matters.”

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Rodney Humphries
Rodney Humphries

Rodney Humphries is the Communications Specialist for United Way of Greater St. Louis and a proud graduate of Webster University where he developed his passion for writing. In college, he combined his love for writing and sports, serving as the primary sports writer for his school newspaper while also developing his own sports blog. After graduating, he continued his love for writing as he served as a freelance writer for various publications. Rodney continues to be a fan of Webster athletics, you will often see him sitting courtside at a lot of their basketball games.