Family Promise CEO Claas Ehlers has been appointed to the Community Advisory Board of Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center, one of the region’s premier providers of health care and home to some of the state’s top physicians.
The board provides a way for the community to help guide Overlook’s development and support its efforts to provide exceptional care. Board members offer insight and best practices on how the hospital and its providers can engage with the local population to address the needs of all members.
“We’re delighted to have someone of Claas’s stature in the community join this board,” said Chairman Frank Macioce. “As the leader of a non-profit organization dedicated to the homeless and underserved population, we look forward to Claas adding his broad understanding of our community to the board.”
The board facilitates communication between hospital management and the community and helps identify local needs to enhance health care delivery. Mr. Ehlers is excited about the opportunities this will present for lower-income families with fewer resources.
“The Community Advisory Board is an important source of guidance in our efforts to build healthier communities,” said Overlook president Alan Lieber. “As someone who has worked closely with the underserved in our communities, Claas’s insight on how to enhance our delivery of health care to this population will be invaluable.”
Mr. Ehlers was asked three questions about the Community Advisory Board and his role there:
What compelled you to join the Overlook Community Advisory Board?
“Throughout my 15 years at Family Promise, the past four serving as CEO of the organization, I understand the nexus between health care and homelessness. I’ve seen countless families face the threat of homelessness because of health and wellness issues. Overlook Medical Center has a longstanding reputation as a leader in health care and interfaces with diverse communities and populations, and I know the board has an important role in shaping Overlook’s actions and engagement with the community. I was honored to be invited, but I also felt an obligation to help our most vulnerable neighbors and see this as an opportunity to do so.”
How important a component is quality healthcare to the work Family Promise does? What impact does health care have on the families served by Family Promise?
“Health care is incredibly important and is a factor for so many of the families we serve. Low-income families typically don’t have adequate resources to receive proper healthcare. Even with Medicaid, families may not get sufficient treatment because of the secondary costs associated with medical care: illness for a parent or a child can mean time missed from work, which leads to loss of income, which can result in the threat of eviction. The experience of homelessness is itself a traumatic event, and often the people facing this crisis have experienced significant other trauma as well. Losing one’s home is only one element of this tragedy. Mental and emotional health is a critical part of wellness.”
What do you see as priorities for the board, Overlook, and our communities?
“Continued engagement with under-resourced communities is essential, particularly examining how the emergency department, which often serves as the point of primary care for the poor, can be optimized for community members who have few resources. Additionally, I’d like to help Overlook identify ways it can be involved in holistic services for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. I’d like to see Overlook build on its reputation as an innovative and compassionate medical center by broadening and deepening its services to those struggling with homelessness.”
Ehlers added, “I’m thrilled to be part of this group. By adding Family Promise’s voice to the local health care conversation, we can better serve the overall community.”