By: William Hodges, director of external communications, greater Sacramento division of Dignity Health

In 2015, Dignity Health Woodland Memorial Hospital, in partnership with Empower Yolo, launched Resource Connection on the campus of Woodland Memorial, to serve as an access point for vulnerable individuals and families to be connected to community health and social services, receive case management, education and enrollment support into Covered California.

In response to the success of this initial program, and seeing the growing need in the community for additional services, the partnership was expanded in May 2018 to include a pilot program, “ER Patient Navigator Program” focused on underinsured and uninsured patients who come to the hospital emergency department for non-urgent needs that could be better served in an outpatient setting such as a primary care physician office or urgent care.

The ER Patient Navigator Program is focused on health care navigation, which assists patients in connecting with a medical home and helping them gain a better understanding of their benefits if they do have coverage. It also helps patients obtain access to other community resources, such as behavioral health resources, human trafficking and domestic violence resources, while decreasing visits to the hospital’s emergency room. Since the program launched, 524 patients have been served.

Patient Navigators also spend a considerable amount of time following up with patients post-discharge to remind them of upcoming appointments, inquire whether they were able to make their appointments and assist with coordinating transportation to medical appointments as needed.

“We are incredibly grateful to have such a tremendous community partner in Empower Yolo,” said Kevin Vaziri, president of Woodland Memorial Hospital. “Empower Yolo is the premier resource in the county for wraparound health and social services, and because of that, it helps ensure patients who come through our emergency department are connected to the services they need in their community,” says Vaziri.

Understanding the need for more health and social services in the community is vast; Woodland Memorial has fully funded the program since its inception, which is a testament to the leadership and commitment of Dignity Health and Woodland Memorial to the community it serves. It’s also a testament to Empower Yolo who works tirelessly to serve the most vulnerable in Yolo County.

With the navigator program now in its second year, Empower Yolo’s focus moving forward is to provide patients health and social services close to home, serve as a neutral third-party to help patients make important decisions, and continue outreach to referring partners to connect patients with services.

“We are grateful for the partnership with Woodland Memorial Hospital and our collective work to positively impact lives,” said Lynnette Irlmeier, Executive Director of Empower Yolo. “I know from talking with our staff and hearing success stories that this program is making a difference. There is certainly more that needs to be done, but I know with a great partner in Woodland Memorial, we will continue this meaningful work and respond to the needs of our county,” says Irlmeier.

Dignity Health, Woodland Memorial and Empower Yolo recently filmed a video to illustrate and highlight the unique partnership between both organizations in an effort to educate our community and beyond. To view the video go to: You can also learn more about Empower Yolo by visiting the Empower Yolo website or Woodland Memorial at

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