New center for community health coming to Twin Falls
Several organizations in the Magic Valley are collaborating to establish a new Center for Community Health in Twin Falls.
“The Center for Community Health's goal is to be able to provide non-clinical navigation services for our community members to have better access to their needs,” said Maria Contreras, who was hired this summer as the director.
The center will be housed in a Twin Falls School District administrative building on Main Ave., which is currently under construction. It is expected to officially open within the next six months to a year.
This initiative is the result of a partnership between the St. Luke’s Health System, Family Health Services, the Twin Falls School District, the county and city of Twin Falls, the South Central Public Health District and the College of Southern Idaho.
The idea for this center came out of a community-wide assessment funded by St. Luke’s four years ago. Kyli Gough, the community health manager at St. Luke’s in the Magic Valley, said it identified the most pressing local social service needs.
In one Twin Falls census tract, more than 26% of people were living below the poverty line, 28% were receiving SNAP benefits and 60% were considered renters. 61% were using more than a third of their income to cover housing costs, an indicator, Gough said, of potentially poor health outcomes and an inability to pay for other living costs.
St. Luke’s currently operates a Center for Community Health in Hailey, which provides in-person guidance, referrals to health and mental services, as well financial assistance during emergencies.
Contreras said the new center in Twin Falls could help people find housing assistance programs and enroll in Medicaid. She hopes it will also offer health-focused classes.
Gough and Contreras will be discussing the Center for Community Health at 7 p.m. Tuesday during a City Club forum at the College of Southern Idaho, titled “Magic Valley Safety Net.”
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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