Note: Eastern Health’s Strategic Plan 2014-2017, Together We Can, was released on June 30, 2014. This article is one in a series outlining each of the plan’s four priorities: Quality and Safety, Access, Sustainability and Population Health.
You don’t have to talk long with Dora Williams, public health nurse, to know she is very passionate about her role at the MacMorran Community Centre. The same is true of Jim Crockwell, the centre’s executive director. The pair describe their work as, “providing services to people in their community without passing judgement about their home life or income. We build relationships with people so that they trust us and they know they can come to us no matter the issue they are dealing with.”
Both Dora and Jim understand how various factors such as early childhood development, housing, income, employment – the “determinants of health” – impact the health of individuals and communities. Improving these factors involves many community stakeholders, including schools, municipal, provincial and federal governments, private industry and not-for-profit organizations. In other words, everyone has a role to play in the health of their community and strong partnerships are required to address common concerns. The relationship between Eastern Health and community groups like the MacMorran Community Centre is about exactly that – working together to help improve the health of the population, or a Population Health approach.
Jim describes the MacMorran Community Centre as “living the population health approach.” The centre works with agencies like Eastern Health to provide services close to where people live and where they feel comfortable visiting.
“We work with people to provide ‘wraparound’ services, which means we look at the whole person and the various issues they are dealing with, such as family problems, mental health, or employment-related challenges, for example,” Jim explains.
Through community partner agencies like the MacMorran Centre, Eastern Health is able to provide numerous types of services to people who might otherwise be hard to reach. For example, Dora offers immunization clinics and Healthy Beginnings (a support program for newborns, young children and their families) directly at the centre and a nurse practitioner is available to area residents one day per week. There are also a number of other Eastern Health programs for various age groups going on at any given time, including Healthy Baby Clubs and Strengthening Families.
While the community centre offers something for everyone, meeting the many needs is certainly an ongoing challenge. Dora and Jim point out that they see a growing need for more mental health services in their community.
This need for a long-term vision is one of the reasons that population health has been chosen as a top priority for Eastern Health in its Strategic Plan for 2014-17. Over the course of the next three years, the population health approach will be growing within Eastern Health, as we continue to work closely with our community partners to help improve the overall health of the population.
The work of people like Dora and Jim demonstrate how working together can have a greater combined impact in working toward our vision of healthy people, healthy communities. As Jim and Dora describe, “it is really about building relationships – we meet people where they are.” ■
To get more details on population health or the other priorities of our Strategic Plan, go to the Strategic Plan 2014-17 website or contact the Planning Department through Gillian Janes (709-777-6773, firstname.lastname@example.org).
This story was written by Gillian Janes, a planning specialist with the Planning Department at Eastern Health.