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Community organizations team up to connect Harrisburg children, families to needed health care

Capital BlueCross, Hamilton Health Center and PinnacleHealth partner with Dauphin County on Bridges to Care program

            HARRISBURG, Pa. (July 8, 2014) – Nearly 1,000 children and more than 6,700 adults in the city of Harrisburg are not receiving adequate health care or do not have health insurance.  To address this gap in care and coverage, Capital BlueCross, Hamilton Health Center and PinnacleHealth today announced that they have partnered with Dauphin County on a program called Bridges to Care, which has already connected 20 people to much-needed health care.

Launched in April, the program’s mission is to identify, enroll and coordinate health care services for Harrisburg area children up to age 19 who are uninsured or medically underserved. The program also provides family-centered support to parents or guardians of these children. Dauphin County makes referrals to the Bridges to Care program when they identify a family that may benefit from it.

“We are very excited about this unique program and its potential to improve the health of many families in Dauphin County as well as the well-being of their children,” said Dauphin County Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III, who oversees the county’s Children and Youth Services agency. “A lack of proper medical care is often a reason for a referral to the agency.

By connecting families in need of health care services and insurance coverage, we can encourage a continuity of care, improve health outcomes for all children and families and reduce unnecessary costs to taxpayers.”

“A recent study shows that low-income families with uninsured adults are three times more likely to have uninsured children versus households with adults covered by private insurance or Medical Assistance,” said Gary D. St. Hilaire, Capital BlueCross president and CEO. “By engaging parents in the process and in their own health, we are placing an important emphasis on health care within the family as a unit.”

Jeannine Peterson, CEO of Hamilton Health Center, said, “With the availability of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid, there is no reason why children in our area are without health insurance or are not getting their well-child check-ups. However, the complexities of the health care system and other socio-economic challenges that many low-income families face are often barriers to signing children up. Thanks to Bridges to Care, trained, certified professionals who work for the three sponsoring organizations are available to provide personalized help to these families.” 

Barbara Terry, PinnacleHealth System vice president for Mission Effectiveness, said, “Bridges to Care maximizes the efforts of community-focused organizations that are working together to connect vulnerable children to much-needed health care. The program’s success will be measured by improved access to health services, ensuring continued care and preventive health care through medical homes, increased enrollment in insurance and an enhanced quality of life for children and their families.”

Dauphin County Children and Youth Services and Juvenile Probation Offices provided the program’s initial referrals of eligible children and families when the program started in April. Since then, SMILES and Faith Community Health Connection have become referring agencies. Additional community organizations serving the Harrisburg area will be selected to make referrals to the program in the future.

The three Bridges to Care sponsoring organizations are each providing one professional to staff the program.

  • PinnacleHealth: A Community Representative works with local organizations to put in place processes for referrals to the Bridges team.
  • Hamilton Health Center: An Enrollment Specialist seeks to find funding for the care delivered, and assists families with the application process, eligibility determinations and renewals of coverage.  
  • Capital BlueCross: An Informed Navigator helps people find community provider resources for needed health care services (medical and dental).

For more information about Bridges to Care, call 1-844-2BRIDGE, or email

About Capital BlueCross

For more than 75 years, Capital BlueCross has been serving central Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley residents and businesses as the region’s leading health insurer. Through its family of companies, Capital BlueCross brings innovative services and clinical solutions to the marketplace. Committed to delivering medical value to its communities, Capital BlueCross focuses on improving patient satisfaction, enhancing quality of care and reducing costs. The company continues to lead the change in the industry, most recently by entering the retail market and introducing a health and wellness store called Capital Blue. Headquartered in Harrisburg, Pa., Capital BlueCross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, employing more than 1,800 people.

About Dauphin County

Dauphin County, the capital county of Pennsylvania, is home to more than 268,000 residents and was formed more than 225 years ago.  Located in the heart of central Pennsylvania, the key industries are the state and federal government, health care, higher education, manufacturing, farming, technology and tourism.  It is also home to the chocolate capital of the world, Hershey.  Dauphin County is governed by Board of Commissioners Jeff Haste, Mike Pries and George P. Hartwick, III, who manage a work force of approximately 1,600 employees in more than 40 departments and maintain the vital services residents depend upon, such as 9-1-1 services, voter registration and elections, human services, economic development, parks and recreation, veterans’ affairs and more. Visit to learn more.

About Hamilton Health Center

Founded in 1969, Hamilton Health Center is the capital region’s premier primary health care facility serving low-income residents, the uninsured, working families who are under-insured as well as those with third-party insurance. Serving more than 21,000 residents of Dauphin and the surrounding counties, the mission of Hamilton Health Center is to improve the health of central Pennsylvania’s residents by delivering high quality, respectful and patient-centered health and related social services that promote access, treatment, education and prevention regardless of health, economic, or insurance status. Continuing with their mission, Hamilton’s new medical mall is a national-level model offering services in a one-stop shop concept which provides access to primary medical and dental services, including women’s services, adult medicine, an imaging department, pharmacy and full-service laboratory. More information about Hamilton Health Center can be found at


About PinnacleHealth System

PinnacleHealth is a pioneer not-for-profit health care system dedicated to improving the health and quality of life for the people of central Pennsylvania since 1873. A proven leader in medical innovation, PinnacleHealth offers a wide range of services from primary care to the most complex surgeries and Magnet recognition for nursing excellence. The health care network includes four campuses (Community, West Shore, Harrisburg and Polyclinic) with three acute care hospitals, the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, the Helen M. Simpson Rehab Hospital and PinnacleHealth Cancer Center (second West Shore location to open summer 2014). With a total of 577 beds, PinnacleHealth Hospitals admit more than 35,000 patients, treat more than 720,000 outpatients, receive more than 110,000 emergency visits and complete more than 35,800 surgical procedures each year. Medical services, including family practice, imaging, outpatient surgery and oncology are offered at multiple locations throughout the region. The PinnacleHealth Medical Group includes more than 220 practicing clinicians and spans four counties. All 26 primary care patient-centered medical home locations are certified by the Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).  PinnacleHealth is part of RiverHealth ACO, an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).