Chair Files

Local Coalition Designs a Healthy Community

Partnering—not competing—with other health organizations is how many hospitals are working to improve traditional medical care. At the same time, these hospitals are integrating care coordination into sustainable models of improvement. In 2006, Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare and the Yellowstone City-County Health Department (known as RiverStone Health) launched Healthy By Design to promote and improve community health by working across local sectors in Yellowstone County, Mont. A large and diverse group of community partners has worked together to complete four concurrent cycles of community health needs assessments and build a coalition whose priority work continues to diversify and grow. The coalition uses collective impact as a framework for its work, with a shared agenda, measurement and reinforcement activities, continuous communication and backbone support that helps the community embrace and sustain change. Current priority topics include mental health, substance abuse, healthy weight and access to health care services. Accomplishments include creating a Complete Streets policy that benefits pedestrians and bicyclists as well as motorists, setting up a Gardeners’ Market in a federally recognized food desert, implementing trauma-informed care strategies, providing community education on heathy lifestyle activities, and refining a medication assistance program. 

For more information, contact Heather Fink, community health improvement manager, at heather@healthybydesignyellowstone.org. More examples of effective and innovative hospital-community partnerships are highlighted in the AHA Committee on Research Report “Next Generation of Community Health.” 

  

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