Office of Health Equity celebrates ‘Community Health Improvement Week’ — here’s why | Journalist VUMC
by Holly Fletcher
The Office of Health Equity at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is highlighting community partnerships across the region to strengthen wellness as part of National Community Health Improvement Week, led by the American Hospital Association and AHA Community Health Improvement.
Effective partnerships with community organizations are essential to the medical center’s mission to personalize health care for its patients and the region, said Elisa Friedman, associate vice president of community health and health equity at VUMC. . Community organizations provide vital resources and support to people who may face various barriers to navigating the healthcare system as well as those who have barriers such as access to food, transportation, housing or that are affected by other social and economic factors that contribute to well-being.
“Community Health Improvement Week is an exciting opportunity to recognize and amplify the necessary and important work that VUMC supports beyond the confines of its campuses. Most of what leads to a person’s well-being, or lack thereof, happens outside the walls of the clinic, so it’s important that we vigorously pursue relationships and celebrate those that already exist. Improving health outcomes takes a community, and this week is a chance for the greater VUMC community to demonstrate how partnerships beyond the delivery system can bring about real change,” Friedman said.
In 2019, VUMC launched OHE with the goal of coordinating and catalyzing health equity initiatives across VUMC and in the community. OHE offers a growing list of funding opportunities, training resources, and collaboration tools to foster a community-based approach to community health and health equity in Middle Tennessee.
This includes OHE’s Community Health Improvement Mini-Grants program which funds innovative projects in surrounding counties, the Lewis B. Lefkowitz Fund which supports community health immersion and health equity experiences for students, as well as Community Health Data and Resources platform that provides “Promising Practices”, external funding opportunities, data resourcesand more.
“We appreciate people who help with food insecurity and financial hardship and who provide employment opportunities. Developing a deep, collaborative network of organizations that share a mission to improve people’s lives is not only complementary to VUMC’s high-quality care, but also crucial to the long-term health of our patients,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Administrator and AHA Board Member.
VUMC has been selected to participate in a 2022 AHA cohort of the Hospital community collaboration, which helps hospitals and community organizations work together to accelerate health equity. The 2022 cohort will focus on initiatives that address community-level social factors that impact behavioral health and well-being.
The medical center’s first Community Health Needs Assessment in 2013 identified mental health as a priority, and improving mental wellness is a common goal for organizations around Nashville. The AHA collaboration will give the VUMC, the Metro Public Health Department, which is a key collaborator, and partner hospitals, including Ascension Saint Thomas, additional tools to address this urgent community need.
Follow the Office of Health Equity on Twitter @VUMCHlthEquity to see the breadth of relationships and help raise awareness of partnership opportunities during the week-long national campaign. Connect with the team on their website to get involved.