Seven years after it was officially launched, the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health is ready to fly on its own.
The Johnstown organization has filed for incorporation as an independent nonprofit organization, shedding official sponsorship of Thomas Jefferson University’s Jefferson College of Population Health.
The first-of-its-kind rural population health center was announced in February 2016 and opened its doors in March 2017 with the ambitious goal of improving the health of those living in Cambria and Somerset counties.
Initial funding came from a $7.5 million allocation from the 1889 Foundation, which is the former Conemaugh Health Foundation. It was renamed and restructured as a “conversion” foundation to oversee $110 million from the 2014 acquisition of nonprofit Conemaugh Health System by the for-profit Duke-LifePoint Healthcare.
The Foundation provided the funding to the Jefferson College with a five-year commitment to develop the center and identify areas of need and institute programs that address the issues.
Population health, by definition, includes everything that can affect an individual’s overall health. It includes access to health care, healthy foods, safe housing, transportation, education, and employment, along with protection from racism, discrimination, violence and polluted air and water.
“We were going to work together to build the first-ever rural population health research center in conjunction with the 1889 team and our colleagues,” then-Jefferson College Dean David Nash said at the 2016 announcement event.
“I’m supremely confident that the 1889 Jefferson Center will serve as the beginning of that journey, and – with our colleagues who are here from Duke LifePoint today – potentially as a model for what other conversion foundations across the country might be able to do,” Nash said.
On Monday, Executive Director Jeannine McMillan announced the center will become the Center of Population Health on July 1, reorganized as a 501c3 nonprofit.
“Over the past few years, our team has been able to further our mission,” McMillan said Monday during an exclusive interview with The Tribune-Democrat.
“This will give us a chance to spread our wings and be ready to take on new challenges,” she said.
“This is a transformational moment for the Center and the community,” said Dr. Billy Oglesby, Humana dean of Jefferson College. “We’re extremely proud of the team’s accomplishments and are happy to have been part of the creation of this new nonprofit organization.”
The 1889 Foundation will continue to support the Center for Population Health, foundation President Susan Mann said in a press release.
“The 1889 Foundation is grateful for our partnership with Thomas Jefferson University, which was able to establish the center in Johnstown and helped launch the Community Care HUB,” she said. “We are committed to the growth and continued development of the Center as it embarks on this new endeavor as a stand-alone entity with a shared mission to help bring innovative solutions to address the complex public health issues, including the socio-economic and cultural factors, that are influencing the health of our region.”
The Community Care Hub was established by the Center for Population Health and oversees six community health workers who connect with at-risk individuals and identify pathways for them to overcome barriers to healthy living.
Randy Griffith is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.
Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.