Treating the Whole Person: Linking Patients to Social Programs Using Aunt Bertha

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MedStar Franklin Square Family Health Center, MedStar Harbor Hospital, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

Erine Gray, founder of Aunt Bertha, Inc., was 17 when his mother developed a life-threatening disease, leading Gray to become her legal guardian after he finished college.

Like many caregivers, it was difficult to find services available for his mother. This inspired Gray to create the Aunt Bertha platform—an online database that makes it easy to identify best-fit programs and trusted, quality services that are nearby to patients.

“Aunt Bertha puts information at the fingertips of clinical providers such as case managers, social workers and patients alike, and brings dignity to the experience of finding help,” says Gray.

In the spring of 2016, MedStar launched the Aunt Bertha pilot project at three outpatient locations: MedStar Franklin Square Family Health Center, MedStar Harbor Hospital Obstetrics Department and the MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center Emergency Department. The Aunt Bertha pilot includes two main components: screening patients for unmet social needs as part of the initial intake process and aiding social workers, case managers and medical assistants to link patients with social needs to community social service resources in their ZIP Code.

“Every day, MedStar programs and services [that Aunt Bertha directs patients to] deliver vital care to the most vulnerable in our community,” says MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center Emergency Department Director Ryan White.

In addition to expanding access to services, the Aunt Bertha program also presents an opportunity for MedStar to continue identifying and addressing the social determinants affecting patients’ health—taking care of the whole person.

Please visit the Aunt Bertha website to find social services near you.

2016 Report to the Community Infographic

To date, more than a 1,000 Aunt Bertha searches have been conducted by MedStar providers and staff across the three pilot sites.