Social Needs Response Team (SNRT)

In the early days of the pandemic, in recognition of the exacerbation of social needs, Dr. Heather Klusaritz, Director of Community Engagement for CPHI, partnered with the Penn Medicine Center for Health Equity Advancement (CHEA) and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Social Work and Case Management to develop and launch the Social Needs Response Team. SNRT is an intervention designed to assist individuals referred via hotline or electronic medical records with safety, distress, or social needs concerns. 


In addition to overseeing the day to day operations of SNRT, Heather was instrumental in bringing together the partners to develop the intervention and facilitating the cross-sector partnerships to support identified health and social needs. This virtual call center is powered by interprofessional teams of students from medicine, social work, and nursing, supervised by licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs). Students are trained in the tenants of crisis intervention, empathetic inquiry, and patient-centered care. Using scripted screening questions for distress and social needs, triage and escalation protocols, and community resources that are updated daily, students work with patients to apply for public benefits; identify and provide supported navigation to food, medication, housing, and other resources; and provide psychosocial support. SNRT works closely with the Penn Public Health Contact Tracing team to support identified needs and to help reach individuals who are difficult to make contact with. We offer course credit and clinical hours to participating students, to simultaneously address critical service and educational gaps that emerged from this unprecedented crisis.