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a 2018 community benefit report

Creating healthy change in our communities takes commitment, compassion, and collaboration with the people living in them, from the neighborhoods of West Philadelphia to the farmlands of Chester County. That’s how trust is built. Real solutions to real problems emerge. Advocates are born. And people gain the lifelong tools to make healthier decisions. Too many of our neighbors in the Philadelphia region continue to face crippling health disparities and social inequalities: from gaps in clinical care and food insecurity to homelessness and lack of emotional support. And year after year, Penn Medicine physicians, nurses, staff, and medical and graduate students, with our like-minded community partners, step up to help tackle them with humility and perseverance — in schools, homes, clinics, parks, and churches. We educate today to empower the leaders of tomorrow. We build bridges to better health with innovative, personalized approaches to care. And we send those in need on a path toward healing through empathy and comfort... simply because.


Caring for the Whole Person 2

Penn Medicine reaches out in health clinics, homes, community centers, and in far-reaching corners of neighborhoods. Healthy food leads to better health, but if it’s not within reach, chances are it won’t get eaten. That’s a barrier many people face living in Lancaster city neighborhoods, where supermarkets are few and the corner stores are more likely to carry high-calorie junk foods than fresh fruits and vegetables. For the past five years, Lancaster General Health (LGH) has been spearheading the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, with assistance from a national organization, The Food Trust. The goal is to help turn this problem around by stocking Lancaster city’s own corner stores — known as bodegas to the predominantly


Latino community — with affordable, healthier foods for its residents.



Store owners say that they are excited to learn that there are local resources to help them provide more healthful foods for their customers. “It’s all about developing relationships with the store owner and working together to make gradual changes,” says Sue Lackmann, a LG Health community health educator. “We’re helping them make the connection between certain foods and health problems.” Owners who participate agree to introduce at least four healthy food choices, and in return, receive $100. Outreach coordinators from LGH, who visit every week, also deliver


marketing materials, training on the food, samples, and healthy recipes — in both English and Spanish — for the owners to display. So far, 22 corner stores in Lancaster have become official healthy corner stores. More recently, a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health made it possible to supply refrigeration units to several stores to sell bottled water, fresh milk, yogurt, and cheese. Lackmann says the responses to the initiative have been positive. One owner, from the Cabrera Mini Market on Strawberry Street, who received a cooling unit, even inspired his own brother in Harrisburg to open a “healthy” store. For the past 11 years, Puentes de Salud (“Bridges to Health”) has given Philadelphia’s growing Latino immigrant population a safe haven to receive the medical care and support they need to survive and thrive, no questions asked.

5 Run by mostly volunteer doctors, nurses, and other staff

to care by offering free or low-cost medical and dental

across a variety of disciplines at Penn Medicine, Puentes

services coupled with educational, social, and wellness

has been servicing this community — many of whose

programs. That last one is often out of reach.

members are undocumented — since 2006. Steven Larson, MD, an Emergency Medicine physician at Penn Medicine, and Jack Ludmir, MD, the former chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Pennsylvania Hospital, co-founded the organization. “In many communities, they are invisible,” says Larson, in the 2017 HBO documentary “Clinica de Migrantes” profiling the center. “There was a need, so we just said, ‘We’re going to build something.’”

For some, it’s a break from the everyday stresses of work or kids. For others, it’s a chance to get fit or manage a chronic disease. Whatever it may be, the yoga classes at Puentes are helping men and women lead healthier lives. “This is a population that doesn’t have as many opportunities to address wellness,” says Adina Lieberman, a certified yoga instructor at Puentes. “Many times, they are doing labor, cleaning houses, taking care of kids, working in restaurants — there is a lot of physical stress

Since then, Puentes has worked to empower the

related to their work. There’s also the stress of not having

community with its multidisciplinary, collaborative approach

papers or having kids in school.”



The 7,000-square foot space on South Street, a former IT

underserved community, many of whom are Latino

center donated by Penn that was completely renovated

and working in the mushroom farms.

in 2015, also gives patients access to behavioral health services three days a week. Plus, art and culture classes are conducted on Wednesdays and Lieberman teaches her yoga class in Spanish on Tuesday. “It’s a way to turn your brain off,” she says. “And it gives people a tool in their everyday life to have mindfulness throughout their day.”

One initiative focuses on hands-only CPR. Another one provides blood pressure screenings. One fall day, on the To-Jo Mushrooms Farm in Avondale, Pa., it was about breast health. During their lunch break, more than 35 women joined Susan R. Pizzi, MS, RN, a CCH community health educator, Cindy Brown, RN, a CCH Breast Care Nurse Navigator, and their

Forty miles to the west, in Chester County, an alliance

colleagues from LCH, for a bilingual presentation on breast

between Chester County Hospital (CCH) and La

cancer awareness. Early detection is key, but often out of

Comunidad Hispana (LCH), a bilingual medical and social

reach for these women because of language barriers and

services agency, is making a tangible difference in its

insurance deficits. Together, both organizations have been

visiting farms throughout this part of the county trying to

CCH works with LCH to identify these uninsured women

change that. And companies like To-Jo have played a big

in need, and offers mammograms at a CCH radiology site

part in making sure their female employees stay informed.

at no cost to them.

“It’s breast health 101,” Pizzi says. “It reviews basic info,

Outside the city of Lancaster and far from clinical care,

increasing their awareness about prevention, the risk factors,

rural communities are facing another kind of access

and it covers how they can be advocates to make sure they

problem. For them, it’s childhood immunizations.

decrease their risk of cancer by knowing their own history, as well as their family’s history.”

LGH’s ChildProtect program began as an emergency response to a German measles outbreak in the Amish

The importance of mammograms is also stressed at the

community in 1991, but it has since evolved into a

“Lunch and Learn” Breast Health Education events. “We have

robust immunization program that many families

women who are not being covered for mammograms, way

living in the remote areas of Lancaster County rely on.

past the age of 40, who haven’t had them in years,” Pizzi says.

To date, ChildProtect has provided almost 167,000



immunizations to nearly 74,000 children who are

It’s that added service beyond primary care for people in

uninsured or enrolled in medical assistance. In 2017 alone,

our community to get care.”

1,532 school-aged children were vaccinated. Staging care closer to home is key, so nurses and staff

after a vaccination rule in Pennsylvania requiring children

administer the vaccinations at local fire companies out

to be immunized within the first five days of school went

in these areas, as well as the LGH Outpatient Center in

into effect. LGH practices stepped up outreach and the

Columbia, Pa.

number of immunization clinics, not only in rural areas

“Removing any barrier to receiving care is vital in making sure all children that can be immunized in Lancaster

but throughout the community, to help make those vaccinations happen. “Immunizations are the basis of health and wellness that

for outbreaks,” says Alice Yoder, MSN, RN, director of

are often taken for granted,” Yoder says. “But there are still

Community Health for LGH. “Remember, these are people

gaps related to this basic wellness that people need. We try

who often might have two jobs or more, and have a limited

to continue to fill that gap.”


County are immunized so that there is little opportunity

window to be able to get their child in for immunizations.


ChildProtect’s importance became even clearer last year,










Healing with Empathy An ear to listen, a hand to hold, a therapy dog to pet — Penn Medicine programs comfort patients and loved ones throughout all stages of life.


The “memory cards” left behind by the children who lost a loved one are a powerful reminder of the impact a weekend away at Camp Erin can have on their grieving journey. “I really enjoyed camp, and I’m glad I came,” one child wrote. “I didn’t know many people who lost someone close to them, so this helped me find some. It taught me that I’m not alone.” “Camp Erin helped me a lot,” another wrote, “because I felt safe to talk about my feelings.”



A death can be especially difficult for a child. Their grieving

Now in its 12th year, making it one of the oldest in the

takes time and often the support of others who have

nation, Camp Erin-Philadelphia is designed to be a

suffered in the same way. Camp Erin-Philadelphia, started

typical summer camp, filled with activities like arts and

by former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer and

crafts and campfires, complemented with bereavement

Karen Phelps Moyer, through the Moyer Foundation and

services for children ages 6 to 17 to help process their

Penn Home Care and Hospice Services, not only gives these

grief and work through their emotions.

children a safe environment to heal, but also the freedom to have fun — together.

It moved to its new location, Camp Kweebec in Schwenksville, Pa., in 2017, and now hosts nearly 120

“Many kids don’t have a place to grieve, even within their

campers from Pennsylvania and nearby states, up from

own families,” says Eric Trumbower, the director of Camp

100. Licensed counselors and trained volunteers staff the

Erin-Philadelphia, and manager of volunteer services at

weekend — 30 percent of whom come from the University

Penn Wissahickon Hospice. “Sometimes, they can’t connect

of Pennsylvania Health System.

with them because they are going through their own loss. So just being able to be a kid and be with others who have gone through a similar experience can be very beneficial.”

“For me, it’s all about seeing the kids persevere and overcome something they need to deal with,” Trumbower says. “It’s a really amazing thing to witness and to be able to support and be a part of.”


The weekend kicks off with the memory board ceremony, where kids decorate a framed photo of their loved one, and, if they choose, say a few words about them in front of their fellow campers. That second night, they light a candle and pass it down a long line of volunteers, watching it go from one set of hands to the next and eventually onto a raft floating on the lake. The whole exercise is a therapeutic one, filled with symbolism. “It is recognizing the light that someone still has in our lives, even though they may not be with us physically,” Trumbower says. “It is to help [them] recognize how much of a part of our lives they will continue to be and how we can keep that person with us.” Acts of compassion come in all forms — and not just from people. Sometimes, it’s the four-legged friends who help people cope with their struggles or illnesses. Percy, a 19-month-old English springer spaniel, and one of the newest members of the pack in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s (HUP) Pups Therapy Program, is more than happy to play that role. “The minute I put on his vest at home, and say, ‘OK, Percy, time to go to work,’ he’s twirling with excitement,” says Patricia Royston, Percy’s owner. “He loves the job.” And with that, off they go to the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine to visit patients and their families and friends in their rooms and waiting areas, where he’ll boost spirits and brighten days in exchange for a couple of welldeserved belly rubs. Percy is one of the many registered therapy pooches helping patients — and staff — within the health system. Canines can also be spotted in departments throughout Chester County Hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, and at HUP, which is going on its eighth year of hosting furry friends. “We’ll circle the waiting rooms, and nine times out of 10, people stop us and say ‘Oh, he’s so cute. Can we say hello?’,” Royston says. “I think it’s helpful not only for the patients, but it relieves tension, stress and quite frankly, fear from family members or friends with the patient.”



One day, with some time to spare between appointments,

Penn Medicine events throughout the year turn Mount

Royston and Percy stopped at the cafeteria and ran into a

Airy’s Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church into a place for

man visiting his sick daughter. He said, “[She] would love

congregants and other area residents to receive free

this so much; would you come and see her?’” Royston

screenings and seminars, for example, on heart health,

says. “Yes, of course,” she told him. When they got there,

diabetes, and ovarian cancer.

Percy jumped onto the bed and laid down next to her.

service associate at Penn Medicine Valley Forge, has

Royston says. “When I left, the mom said to me, ‘I haven’t

committed herself to feeding the homeless at the Marple

seen her this happy in weeks’.”

Presbyterian Church in Broomall, Pa.

A few weeks later, Royston received a text from the father:

Every Wednesday, for 10 months out of the year,

his daughter had been readmitted. Could she come back?

Wielgoszinski helps prepare food at the church and take

Yes, of course. That same kind of dedication can be found beyond the hospital walls and in churches across the region, from the city out to the suburbs. For many people, these are sanctuaries of both spirituality and health.


For the last seven years, Joan Wielgoszinski, a patient

“It was so rewarding. She was very ill, and in her 20s,”

it to Connect by Night Day Shelter in Upper Darby, Pa., where she dishes out meals to anywhere from 50 to 80 people. In May and December, when people come to sleep at the church, she’s there four nights a week to lend a hand, making salads, cutting fruit, or getting the silverware and plates together — whatever they need.


“I’ve always been a volunteer for different things over

Wielgoszinski says they feed a mix of people, both young

the years growing up,” she says. “I feel very fortunate —

and old, men and women, many of whom have been

anything that I can do to help.”

coming since it started. Each year, about 15,000 people,

The program, Justine’s Food Angels (“It was coined by the people,” Wielgoszinski says, “and it just sort of stuck.”), was started in 2010 by Justine Fairlie, a caterer for the church who saw an opportunity to help those in need with the

including families, access shelters in Philadelphia, while over 6,500 live on the streets, in abandoned buildings, cars, and other places not meant for habitation, according to Project HOME. “I came home that first night … and I looked at myself in the

provides clothes, with the help of donations, fundraisers,

mirror, and I had a wash cloth in one hand, a bar of soap in

and Penn Medicine CAREs grants awarded to Wielgoszinski

the other, and running water. And I thought to myself, ‘Do

for the last two years. That award has helped cover the

you have any idea how lucky you are?’” she says.

cost of food and supplies — which comes to about a $8,500 a year.

“I hope to be able to do this for as a long as I can.”


leftover food. The organization grew from there, and now







Exploring Health 30

Past walls and doors, the key to health is found in youth workshops, food grown with love, and other efforts to reshape neighborhoods in the image of wellness. Teaching kids about the environment in the classroom works well, but things start to really click when they’re standing in it. “That is where the magic happens,” says Tom McKeon, of the Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) at Penn’s Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology. As a coordinator at COEC, McKeon teaches youth in underserved areas about how the environment and their health are closely connected. Whether it’s the air they breathe, the water they play in, or the food in their neighborhood, they all have a cumulative effect on their bodies. “Being aware of exposures is important,” he says. “And I think a lot of us in the urban area may not necessarily piece that together.”



The COEC focuses its outreach efforts in six communities

The COEC believes building awareness through field

in and around Philadelphia — from Chester to Lancaster

trips and other activities like this is essential to fostering

— disproportionately affected by environmental issues,

a future generation that understands the importance of

such as lead poisoning, poor outdoor air quality, and water

healthy environments.

pollution. “These are also the places,” McKeon says, “where people may not be as connected to the natural world.” So, he takes them there.

“The sampling is a launching point to talk about how water quality affects human health, to just have fun and make the connection that there is life in streams,” McKeon says.

Last summer, with a group of middle and high school

“Engaging with water and seeing the macroinvertebrates

students from West Philadelphia’s Neighborhood Bike

produces those a-ha moments [for the youth], which

Watch program, McKeon hiked through the woods of the

makes it rewarding.”

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge to a stream. There, the youth sampled the water for macroinvertebrates (spineless bugs visible to the naked eye that are good indicators of stream health) as McKeon talked to the students about the impact pollutants can have on natural water sources and drinking water.

These West Philadelphia students learned that getting healthy sometimes means getting a little dirty. For the last 15 years, the Urban Tree Connection has collaborated with this community to redevelop vacant lots — 29 and counting — into safe and usable spaces, including an urban farm that grows everything from


yams and tomatoes to lettuce and herbs. That food

healthy food and share its benefits with her neighbors. Her

is then sold by community members at farm stands

daughter was inspired to enroll at Saul High School to study

around the neighborhood.

agriculture and farming.

It’s what UTC members see as a “powerful antidote” to the

While they farm in Haddington, residents in the West

food insecurity problems faced by many of the residents

Philadelphia section of Kingsessing engage in another

living there. Almost 25 percent of Philadelphians, nearly

timeless outdoor activity: walking. The simplest efforts are

twice the national average, are considered food insecure,

often the most effective.

meaning they run out of food, and money to pay for more of it, at points during the year. UTC grows approximately 10,000 pounds of food annually and runs five neighborhood farmers markets. It’s also creating jobs for residents and apprenticeships for teenagers to learn about the urban farming trade.

“It’s sustainable, and it’s something you can do for the rest of your life,” says Elaine Tran, a second-year master of public health student in Penn’s Center for Public Health Initiatives, who started the Walk with a Future Doc program with a CAREs grant. “And it has the lowest dropout of any physical activity.”


“A Penn Medicine CAREs grant helped fund the end of the summer harvest,” says Katherine Madonna, UTC’s treasurer. “UTC isn’t just an organization where people are saying, ‘You need to eat healthy food.’ Rather, they are showing you. It’s community driven, and I really like that.” One community member was introduced to the importance of healthy foods and growing them when her daughter participated in one of UTC’s children’s programs. She is now one of UTC’s lead farmers and works with other community members to grow


It also helps people lose weight, prevent heart attacks, and lower cholesterol. One of only five chapters in the country, the program is a spinoff of “Walk with a Doc,” a grassroots effort started by a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio, who wasn’t having any luck getting his patients to exercise. So, he decided to invite them for a walk in the park one Saturday. To his surprise, many people showed up — and have been every other week for the last 12 years. It now has 300 chapters around the world. Tran tapped into her classmates at Penn to start the Philadelphia chapter. “I thought it was a really nice way to do it here because my classes are multidisciplinary, so there are a lot of med students in them,” she says. Now, every other Saturday, Tran and others meet up with folks from the neighborhood, mostly senior citizens, at the Kingsessing Rec Center for a 10-minute health chat followed by an hour-long stroll. They talk about a wide range of topics: how to prepare for a physician visit, stress, fall hazards. One day, they


talked about the gut microbiome.

“It’s a lot of fun, and has more of a community, laid-back feeling,” Tran says. “It’s not that we tell you about health topics and you listen. It’s more conversational. We’re also students, not fullfledged practitioners. I feel like they’re more comfortable — and we’re just walking.” That same trust between Penn students and West Philadelphia’s Parkside neighborhood is what makes the partnership with United Community Clinic so strong. Run by students from across nearly all of Penn’s schools, UCC serves as a free clinic every Monday night in the basement of the First African Presbyterian Church, offering job-related physicals, dental and eye care, and health insurance assistance, to name a few. UCC also opened a hypertension clinic, after a survey among the community members identified the need for one. Over 35 percent of people living in Philadelphia battle high blood pressure. Staff from the clinic head outside every year for the clinic’s Bike Rodeo, where they hand out free helmets to kids to promote bike safety and exercise, thanks in part to CAREs grants. “The rodeo has evolved over its 17 years and is now broader in focus,” says Lauren Reed-Guy, a second-year medical student at the Perelman School of Medicine, and outreach coordinator for UCC.



It’s now a health fair for the community, with blood

“It takes an active effort to make a community feel the

pressure checks, exercise classes, and conversations about

benefits of a place like Penn,” she says. “I think as med

sunscreen, that also acts like an advertisement of sorts.

students, we all come in with the goal of helping people

“Now people who hadn’t heard of UCC know about us,”

and engaging with people in our communities, but it’s not

Reed-Guy says.

always that easy because you are somewhat insulated. If it

The clinic also gives Penn trainees an opportunity to practice clinical skills while engaging with one of the


weren’t for UCC, I don’t think I would have much chance to work with this community.” “I think it’s important that Penn be involved and have a

Reed-Guy says.

presence here.”


under-served areas surrounding them. “That’s important,”








Spreading Knowledge Reigniting the light of knowledge in schools, community events, and other areas, we empower diverse populations to tackle health challenges.


Where does anticipated health care job growth meet with area youth eager to learn and fill the void? Penn Medicine’s Educational Pipeline Program and Penn Medicine’s High School Pipeline Program, two long-running initiatives, provide Philadelphia high school students with valuable training to prepare for health care careers. When Sharon Lewis, MD, an assistant professor of clinical Neurology, talks about her education, it’s with gratitude and a strong desire to pay it forward. “From every stage, going back to high school, I had someone who took a special interest in me,” she says. Her passion for science remained alive and focused because of those willing mentors and a slew of extracurricular programs.



She dug deeper into biology on “Science Saturdays” in high school, received invaluable advice from a guidance counselor, and thrived through a first-year-of-medical-school simulation when she was an undergraduate. “All of those experiences reinforced my desire to pursue a career in science, and they taught me how to navigate to actually achieve it,” she says. “I believe in mentorship, and don’t believe I would be here without it.” For 20 years, those philosophies have served as the foundation for Penn Medicine’s Educational Pipeline Program — which Lewis has directed since 2012. A partnership between the Netter Center for Community Partnerships and the Perelman School of Medicine, Pipeline gives high school students from underserved areas the opportunity to explore and grow their scientific sides, and a community of mentors to guide them through it. It starts every fall, when students from the University of Pennsylvania embed themselves into Sayre and other West Philadelphia high schools to introduce its students to a medical science curriculum. That spring, a select group heads to Penn for more in-depth, interactive lessons taught by medical, graduate, and undergraduate students in four tracks: gastroenterology, neurology, cardiology, and veterinary medicine.




At the end of the semester, about 60 students prepare with

development training, while completing their last two years

their mentors and give final presentations on a disease or

of high school. Since evolving into a year-round program

health topic to a packed house of faculty, students, and their

in 2010, 255 students have participated. In the past five

families in the Henry A. Jordan Medical Education Center’s

years, 100 percent of the students have graduated from

Law Auditorium. The projects cover everything from stroke

high school.

and colon cancer to heart disease and lactose intolerance.

Students of all ages get to peek and play behind the

“A lot of the diseases we teach about actually disproportionately

scientific curtain during the annual Philadelphia Science

affect the students’ own communities,” Lewis says. “We want

Festival — which has become a mainstay for the city of

them to be advocates and teachers back in their communities.”

Brotherly Love. And every year for the last seven, Penn

One impressive stat has held since the first group walked out

Medicine has played a leading role.

the doors: 100 percent of students who participate go on to

Researchers and students open minds at the popular

graduate from high school.

“Science in the Park,” an afternoon filled with hands-on

Similar success is seen in Penn Medicine Academy’s High School Pipeline program, an additional “pipeline” named program using another approach to developing the next generation of health care professionals. In this rigorous two-year program, high school students take college courses, work in paid positions throughout the Health System, receive professional

activities to inspire the next generation of scientists. Rain pushed the most recent event indoors, away from its usual location, West Philadelphia’s Clark Park, but that didn’t make it any less fun or impactful. Penn’s Center for Brain Injury and Repair attracted kids to the “Mind Your Brain” table with a spinal cord column for kids to touch and learn about its segments — all 31 of them — and the egg drop simulation to demonstrate


bike safety. “It was stimulating for all of the kids who stopped by,” says Michael Sangobowale, PhD, MS, a postdoctoral research fellow at Penn. “It was my first experience with Mind Your Brain, so I brought my two-year-old daughter with me, who had a blast. The concept that really had her head spinning was the Styrofoam helmet. The exercise helped her to understand why helmets are so important, and how they are key to protecting our brains.” That one-on-one interaction is also alive at the People’s Emergency Center (PEC) — except it’s happening year-round. In Saunders Park across the street from Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC), one of PEC’s community wellness ventures known as uGO, offers free weekly exercise workshops, along with private

health screenings and chats for the residents of Powelton

A big focus with the younger generation has been on

Village. Organizers tailor the services to address the

heart health. The hope is that earlier exposure to the

health problems within the community, such as high blood

dangers of disease and the healthier options out there

pressure, bad cholesterol, and obesity.

to prevent it will allow them to make better decisions

“It just makes me feel good to support them in this very

down the road.

important mission,” says Gary Ginsberg, assistant executive

“PPMC was founded to serve our community, and they

director at Penn Presbyterian, who has been working with

represent a significant part of it,” Ginsberg says. “While we

the group for 14 years. “[They] are so committed to moving

have evolved over time, we still remain embedded in this

the community to self-sufficiency from both a health and

community and part of our mission remains to serve their

economic perspective, really a holistic approach. None of

health needs.”

this would be possible were it not for their existence.” A Penn Medicine CAREs grant last year helped the group grow their outreach efforts, increasing the number of participants from 150 to nearly 200 — a mix of both young and old from the West Philadelphia Promise Zone. In fact, more youth are involved than ever before: a summer uGO program at Martha Washington Elementary School reached over 130 young people.

Not all efforts can be hands-on with the people they’re trying to reach. Sometimes, that help happens from afar. For the last 27 years, Books Through Bars’ mission has been simple: provide incarcerated individuals with the reading and educational materials they are looking for, be it novels, law books, or health guides — really anything that can be found on the shelves of a local bookstore.



50 Why? Because books have the power to change their lives.

the program’s clients to take a renewed commitment in

Nearly 75 percent of the people incarcerated in state

their overall well-being.

prisons never graduated high school, and most don’t receive education while in jail. One of the aims of Books Through Bars is to address that gap. Studies have shown that prisoners who become more educated while in prison are less likely to return and more likely to find jobs when they get out.

“Some of them are serving a life sentence, and this is their only interaction with the outside world,” he says. “I think to some degree, there is an important humanitarian aspect to this.” From its headquarters at the A-Space in West Philadelphia, volunteers read through hundreds of requests sent by

“It is incredibly helpful for rehabilitating these individuals,

prisoners every week, gather the books up, and ship them

giving them a path to training for when they re-enter society,”

out in donated brown paper bags. Last year, they sent

says Greg Richter, a senior medical communications officer

roughly 24,000 books to prisoners across seven states.

in Penn Medicine’s Department of Communications, who has

The responses from the prisoners speak volumes.

volunteered since 2014. “A lot of people, once they have a record, cannot get a job, and it’s more difficult to get housing. Many of the books we send help them with mental and physical health, as well as with skills that may help them once they leave prison.”

“The word prisoner allows people to have a preconceived notion about who we are/I am … but in all actuality a lot of us try to educate ourselves so we can be successful and provide for our family,” writes one person who has received books through the program. “The educational books that Books Through Bars sent me have really made

health-related books and textbooks that he hopes empowers

a difference.”


Richter used a Penn Medicine CAREs grant to purchase








Guide to Featured Programs The Hall-Mercer Community Behavioral Health Center of Pennsylvania Hospital enriches the lives of people affected by mental illness or developmental disabilities, with a focus on caring for those who are homeless in Philadelphia. u

Operating within the Ludmir Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, Latina Community Health Services provides effective, culturally competent women’s health services to an underserved immigrant population.

As part of the Breast Health Education for Mushroom Workers program, more than 35 women joined Chester County Hospital nurses for a bilingual presentation on breast cancer awareness at To-Jo Mushrooms Farm in Avondale, Pa.

Perelman School of Medicine students worked with Project HOME physicians in Philadelphia’s Logan Square, where many chronically homeless individuals sleep. They provide basic medical care and help to connect individuals to primary care physicians. u

The Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia is Philadelphia’s foundation of social, health, and education programs for Cambodian refugees and their families. u The IMPaCT program trains lay community members to assist high-risk, low socioeconomic status patients in their neighborhoods, through advocacy, social support, and navigation to help patients achieve health goals and stay out of the hospital. u ChildProtect provides free immunizations in remote areas of Lancaster County. To date, the program has provided more than 166,000 immunizations to nearly 74,000 children.


Puentes de Salud (Bridges of Health) promotes health and wellness among South Philadelphia’s rapidly growing Latino immigrant population through high-quality health care, innovative educational programs, and community-building.

University City Hospitality Coalition is a student-run medical clinic serving primarily homeless individuals in West Philadelphia. u Sayre Health Center is a federally qualified health center in West Philadelphia that has provided quality and affordable health care to all, regardless of their ability to pay, since 2006. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Baby Huggers Program at Chester County Hospital is a volunteer initiative that brings healing touch to the littlest patients. The Neighborhood Healthy Food Initiative provides cooling units to corner groceries to enable them to sell bottled water, produce, fresh milk, yogurt, and cheese. LG Health leads this initiative to bring new farmers’ markets, full service grocery stores, and community gardens to Lancaster City. A tool developed at Chester County Hospital screens patients for food insecurity, and a partnership with the Chester County Food Bank gets food to those who need it.

Penn Medicine hosted a “Health from the Heart” event at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. Penn nurses and a physician discussed heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and what individuals can do to prevent and control their risk. Staffed by licensed social workers/counselors and trained community volunteers, Camp ErinPhiladelphia gives young campers who’ve lost a loved one the opportunity to remember their special memories, develop grief skills, and enjoy a positive camp experience. Operating from Marple Presbyterian Church in Broomall, Justine’s Food Angels provides 50 homeless individuals a hot meal every night in May and December, and every Wednesday outside of those months. u Grace Dance Theater introduces movement and dance-aerobic classes to children and families of West Philadelphia as a way to increase health, encourage community relationships, and develop social skills. u HUPs Pups, registered patient therapy dogs, bring cheer and affection to the patients they visit throughout the hospital.

A partnership with the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, The Penn Educational Pipeline Program gives high school students from underserved areas the opportunity to explore and grow their scientific side, with a community of mentors to guide them through it. Through the Penn Academy for Skin Health, young men and women from Philadelphia high schools spend four Saturdays learning about the research and clinical aspects of dermatology. In Penn Medicine’s High School Pipeline Program, high school students take college courses, work in paid positions throughout the Health System, receive professional development training, and complete their last two years of high school. Since 2010, 255 students have participated. Pennsylvania Hospital created a program for Prep Charter High School students to gain on-the-job experience in units of the hospital. The Philadelphia Science Festival comes to Clark Park each year to provide a day of unique and fun hands-on activities exploring science, technology, engineering, and math. Books Through Bars sends more than 8,000 book packages to incarcerated people in Pennsylvania and surrounding states each year. u UGo is a community wellness venture that offers free weekly exercise workshops in an outdoor, familyfriendly environment and provides private health screenings and educational health chats to groups. u Breastfeeding Awareness and Empowerment raises awareness and empowers African American families to make informed decisions around health and wellness related to breastfeeding. u The Saturday Enrichment Program provides academic enrichment with a healthy breakfast and lunch for neighborhood children every Saturday at Grace Christian Fellowship church in Philadelphia. u

The Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology partners with communities to investigate environmental health problems and promote communication and translation of environmental health science. Recently, this included collaborating on an environmental health equity quilt and water quality workshops with youth.

Among adults in West and Southwest Philadelphia ages 20 and over, 31 percent are obese and 32 percent have hypertension. Students of Penn’s Center for Public Health Initiatives and the Perelman School of Medicine offer biweekly one-hour neighborhood walks and health talks with area residents through Walk with a Future Doc. u

The halls of Pennsylvania Hospital’s Pine Building and historic library opens to kids and adults each year during the Philadelphia Science Festival’s Explorer Sunday for a glimpse of medical history inside the nation’s first hospital.

Urban Tree Connection, a community-based agriculture program, benefits West Philadelphia residents. Farm stands from May through November, “sell” fresh food at little or no cost. u

The Philly Youth Peace Project provides sports, music, and arts activities that encourage kids to stay engaged after school and exercise their imaginative and entrepreneurial muscles. These opportunities offer positive, productive outlets for city youth, while also highlighting conflict resolution and community building tactics. u

United Community Clinic (UCC) is a free health clinic coordinated by University of Pennsylvania Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, and Social Work. Care is provided every Monday at the First African Presbyterian Church in West Philadelphia. At UCC’s annual bike rodeo and health fair, kids learn about bicycle safety, including how to tune and fix a bike.

u Penn Medicine CAREs recipient. The Penn Medicine CAREs program, which started in January 2012,

provides grant funding to faculty, students, and staff who volunteer their time to improve the health of the community. Grant recipients support existing community service programs and non-profit organizations across Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, and often use their grants to start new and innovative efforts to address community health and educational needs.



Committed to the Community

Giving Back

$254 M $116 M $129 M $1.1 M TOTAL

Charity and underfunded care for Medicaid families Physician training support Research support and community health improvement services Raised by Penn’s Way campaign

$500.1 M


Emergency Department Visits

60,695 35,648 47,428 44,551 114,917 TOTAL

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Hospital Penn Presbyterian Medical Center Chester County Hospital Lancaster General Health



Our mission is to advance knowledge and improve health through research, patient care, and the education of trainees in an inclusive culture that embraces diversity, fosters innovation, stimulates critical thinking, supports lifelong learning, and sustains our legacy of excellence. We acknowledge the physicians, nurses and staff, and students throughout the Perelman School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Health System who contributed to this report and to our community.

To learn more about Penn Medicine’s commitment to the community, visit

ŠCopyright 2018 by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.

Simply Because 2018 | Penn Medicine  
Simply Because 2018 | Penn Medicine  

Creating healthy change in our communities takes commitment, compassion, and collaboration with the people living in them, from the neighbor...