A Closer Look at MHM’s Strategic Focus Areas

Advancing health equity is a long-term commitment that requires multiple approaches. To guide its strategic efforts for increased impact, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. has defined three focus areas that will act as a roadmap for the next ten years of its work: Transform Internal Processes and Culture, Strengthen Communities, and Impact Systemic Changes.

Strategic Focus #1 – Transform Internal Processes and Culture

Methodist Healthcare Ministries will transform its culture, internal capacity, and processes to advance health equity.
This will include advancing a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion, increasing an understanding of and competency in applying an equity lens to our organizational work, policies, processes, and procedures; and fostering greater intentionality in our pursuit of broadening the definition of health care.

Some of our work in the area of internal transformation includes:

Methodist Healthcare Ministries became the first organization to attain a Level 1 – Trauma Informed Certification from the Ecumenical Center in August 2021.
Methodist Healthcare Ministries became the first organization to attain a Level 1 – Trauma Informed Certification from the Ecumenical Center in August 2021.

– Becoming a Trauma Informed Care-certified organization in Summer 2021. Methodist Healthcare Ministries became the first organization to attain a Level 1 – Trauma Informed Certification from the Ecumenical Center, the certifying entity for the South Texas Trauma Informed Care Crisis Consortium. Trauma Informed Care practices can help improve client, patient, and employee relationships, and help organizations avoid re-traumatizing those who have experienced trauma in the past.
– Starting the journey of implementing intentional anchor strategies that leverage local community assets in our operations. We are increasing our focus on contracting and spending with Small, Women and Minority Owned Business Enterprises (SWMBE) and Veteran-Owned Businesses (VOB). Methodist Healthcare Ministries conducted an internal analysis of our spending with SWMBEs and VOBs; finding that 32% of our 2020 dollars spent were with SWMBEs and VOBs, and this increased to 46% of total spending in 2021. Organizational goals and practices have been set in place to continue identifying opportunities to increase spending with these vendors.
– Engaging in learning and dialogue to foster increased understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Building upon this increased understanding to integrate practices and policies are key to transforming our internal culture.
– Adjusting our internal processes and culture, the organization recently increased the minimum starting wage to $15/hr to improve the overall standard of living for team members and their families. This is another example of Methodist Healthcare Ministries shifting its internal policies in pursuit of supporting health and well-being for all.
Strategic Focus #2 – Strengthen Communities
Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ will build upon the capacity of Resilient Families and Thriving Communities to reach their full potential for health and life. This focus area encompasses the majority of Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ work and a variety of ways in which the organization will be able to engage and support communities. This includes but is not limited to community investments, clinical care, regional health and wellness programs and services, and working alongside community members as we focus on place-based strategies.
As one example, in March of 2021, Methodist Healthcare Ministries launched the first Prosperemos Juntos | Thriving Together Learning Collaborative, which is the initial means by which it will support the development and growth of communities of solutions throughout south and central Texas. Nonprofits, faith communities, schools, and other groups in Bexar County and South Texas who are part of the learning collaborative identify a vital community condition with community residents most affected by poverty, racism, and other inequities and develop strategies to address root causes.  Each annual learning collaborative is a capacity-building opportunity for communities in south and central Texas to substantially accelerate their health equity journey.  Methodist Healthcare Ministries believes communities have the solutions to improve their health and well-being. Each learning collaborative equips community-driven coalitions with skills and resources to strategically advance health equity, using the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Pathways to Population Health framework[TV1]  as a guide.

Methodist Healthcare Ministries opened the new Dixon Health & Wellness Center on San Antonio's East Side in 2019.
Methodist Healthcare Ministries opened the new Dixon Health & Wellness Center on San Antonio’s East Side in 2019.

Methodist Healthcare Ministries also has a long history of other areas of work in Strengthening Communities. As an example, in San Antonio, the Wesley Health & Wellness Center and Dixon Health & Wellness Center offer affordable medical, dental, and behavioral health services to individuals who are uninsured, as well as a full range of other services dedicated to treating the mind, body, and spirit.
In addition, the organization operates two George Ricks School Based Health Centers to provide comprehensive, primary health care, behavioral health, and dental services to children and their siblings enrolled in the Marion and Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School Districts in Guadalupe County.
Wesley Nurses, who are mostly located within churches across Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ service area, and part of Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ ecumenical outreach, provide holistic services, including health education, health promotion, and access to resources. They are uniquely embedded within the 74-county service area. Community Health Workers/Promotoras are also uniquely embedded and often come from the communities in which they serve. They reach out to, connect with, and engage individuals and families to help improve health outcomes for the clients they serve.
Through Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), Methodist Healthcare Ministries is committed to providing high quality, affordable care that is centered around each patient. Using evidence-based practices, providers listen carefully to each patient and offer integrated medical, behavioral, and oral health care that is coordinated alongside parenting and wellness classes so that each patient has the opportunity to thrive.
Methodist Healthcare Ministries is on a journey of developing trust-based philanthropic approaches to grantmaking. This encourages funded partners to be creative in developing projects, programs, and services that support resilient families and thriving communities within the service area.
Strategic Focus #3 – Impact Systemic Change
Methodist Healthcare Ministries plans to invest in efforts to address systemic and root causes of health inequity to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty.  We are committed to digital inclusion, economic mobility, food security, and access to care.
The organization is investing resources into a variety of efforts to impact systemic change. As one example, last year the organization supported state legislation for the investment in Texas broadband infrastructure to address the nearly one million Texans living without access to broadband at home. HB 5 created a State Broadband Development Office to research the expansion, adoption, and affordability of deploying broadband services and programs to underserved areas of the state.

Methodist Healthcare Ministries announced the launch of a two-year economic mobility study in San Antonio in July 2022.
Methodist Healthcare Ministries announced the launch of a two-year economic mobility study in San Antonio in July 2022.

The organization is also commissioning a two-year economic mobility research study (randomized control trial) to examine the effectiveness of well-known interventions working together and separately for individuals in priority zip codes across San Antonio. We hope to apply what we learn to future investments of resources in support of economic upward mobility for individuals and families across South Texas. Read more about the study here.
To increase access to care, some of Methodist Healthcare Ministries legislative advocacy work is focused on Medicaid Expansion. We are working on expanding Medicaid for more Texans and connecting residents in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley with mental health services.
Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ other work builds upon the organization’s access to care work and goes beyond by addressing social needs. Methodist Healthcare Ministries has partnered with a local federally qualified health center (FQHC) and a faith-based organization to address social needs and provide services to underserved, low-income populations. Methodist Healthcare Ministries is working with organizations in northeast San Antonio to create a hub of resources for community members that will include access to a clinic providing medical, dental, and behavioral health services, as well as a food pantry, educational opportunities, a nearby transportation center, a place of worship and more. The hub will also house one of our Wesley Nurses, who specialize in the facilitation of resources and faith-based community nursing. All of these resources, centrally located, will help increase opportunities to engage the community and improve health equity within this area. Initial operation of this Hub Concept is expected to begin in the first quarter 2023.
All these efforts are aimed to help improve health equity in the communities we serve and translate strategy into improved community conditions and better quality of life.
Learn more about what Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. is doing on its transformative journey through the Advancing Health Equity blog series on mhm.org. If you have any questions, please email us at healthequity@mhm.org.
To read previous entries in the health equity blog series, see below:
Advancing Health Equity: Changing Health Outcomes