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Supporting healthy communities through innovation and partnership


The John Rugge Center for Community Impact will allow for nimble problem-solving and strategic responses to address regional and large-scale needs related to social drivers of health. The Center will serve as a convener, collaborator, innovator and grant-maker, working collaboratively with communities and partners to address the critical, community-based needs of our patients. The Center will further the Network’s mission of providing high-quality health care and access to that care, by supporting the health of the communities where our patients and families reside. Naming the Center after the Network’s Founder is both a tribute to Dr. Rugge and an acknowledgment that a commitment to healthy communities always has been and will continue to be an integral part of Hudson Headwaters.


About 80% of what affects an individual’s health are factors such as behaviors (smoking, diet, exercise), socioeconomic background (education, job status, income) and the physical environment (pollution, public safety). These factors are known as social drivers of health. While the efforts of the Network have continued to expand beyond direct clinical care, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted even further that our communities and patients, especially the most vulnerable, face many discrepancies and barriers to achieving good health and that many of these challenges are rooted outside the walls of our health centers.

Hudson Headwaters launched the Upstream Fund in 2019 to externally invest in and empower community partners to address social determinants of health. The Upstream Fund helped the Network realize the powerful potential of direct community investment, but a different approach and model is needed to attempt population-level change.

Partnering with others on innovative solutions will be key to truly moving the needle on social drivers of health. In fact, the Network is embarking on this initiative to better support the organizations in our region working on these issues by leveraging Hudson Headwaters’ resources, leadership, expertise and infrastructure.

Current Status

2023 is an important planning year and includes an assessment project to help determine priorities and focus areas. Social drivers of health include many things, such as housing, transportation, food, etc., so it is crucial to understand the challenges and opportunities in our region and, most importantly, where the Network is likely to have the biggest impact. Hudson Headwaters anticipates announcing the first new partnerships in 2024. This page will be updated with the latest information and news.

This initiative was announced at a 2022 event honoring Dr. Rugge. Watch this short film to hear more: