Hospitals Partner to Work with More than 60 Community Organizations to Improve Community Health and Strengthen Economic Stability
Baptist Health Care and Sacred Heart Health System have been partnering to meet community needs since 1994, when the two hospitals formed the Partnership for a Healthy Community. The Partnership was initially formed with the goal to assess the community’s health status and communicate information to providers and the public. Since then, the mission of the Partnership has broadened to include an important role in facilitating community-wide initiatives that target key health issues and the underlying cause of those problems.
The joint Partnership for a Healthy Community conducted comprehensive community health assessments for Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties in 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2012. After the first three assessments, the Partnership focused on decisions health care providers could make to impact the community’s health, such as care management and community services. Despite years of assessing the community’s health and making changes to encourage healthy choices, the health of the Escambia-Santa Rose area ranks 55th out of 67 counties in the state of Florida based on health outcomes measures, and last among the state’s 17 Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
In 2013, the two hospitals recognized that until the community understood and embraced its health needs, no real change would take place. As a result, the Partnership broadened its efforts and recruited more than 77 partner organizations to participate in the health improvement initiative Live Well Northwest Florida (Live Well NWFL). The community-wide collaborative effort is raising awareness about the impact of healthy choices on personal health and well-being as well as on the economy and region as a whole.
Part of the Partnership’s growth is due to increased understanding about the financial impact of poor health on the region. According to economist Rick Harper, the impact of tobacco use and the prevalence of obesity costs employers in the two counties $800 million every year. The potential impact of influencing positive health choices is a significant financial opportunity.
Live Well NWFL addresses that opportunity by focusing on the top three health areas identified in its most recent community needs assessment: 1) healthy weight; 2) tobacco use; and 3) heath management.
Healthy Weight: Play and Eat Well
Unhealthy weight is strongly associated with many of the poor health outcomes indicated on the 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, and associated deaths from these complications. Escambia and Santa Rosa County experience these conditions and other chronic diseases at a far greater rate than similar counties and in the state, an impact which also has widespread economic and social implications that affect the entire community. The Live Well NWFL healthy weight workgroup is developing a community-wide strategy to curb obesity, focusing on areas such as healthy grocery shopping, playing hard and smart eating that includes fresh fruits and vegetables.
Part of this effort is the 5210 Let’s Go! Northwest Florida campaign supported by the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County and Live Well Northwest Florida. The campaign encourages residents to adopt and practice 5-2-1-0 every day, which stands for:
- 5 or more fruits and vegetables
- 2 hours or less of recreational screen time (tablet, TV, computer, etc.)
- 1 hour or more of physical activity
- 0 sugary drinks, more water and low fat milk
Tobacco Use: Quit Tobacco
The 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment also identified tobacco use as a root cause of many poor health outcome measures, including excessive rates of asthma, bronchial infection, heart disease, cancer, and stroke. These significant health risks are also associated with high costs for employers, the community and individuals in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. Live Well NWFL is utilizing existing resources and health promotion/worksite wellness experts to address tobacco usage in the workplace.
Health Management: Stay Well
Health management helps to ensure patients receive the right care, at the right place, at the right time, and is an important part to minimizing unnecessary costs and improving health system efficiency so providers can deliver optimal quality care. Many uninsured individuals lack access to primary care and other basic health services and often turn to the emergency department for preventable conditions. Led by Baptist Health Care and Sacred Heart Health System, the third initiative of Live Well NWFL, “Stay Well,” hosts a platform for providers throughout the community to join together in a common effort to improve health care management.
The Partnership and its Live Well Northwest Florida initiative are funded by Baptist Health Care, Sacred Heart Health System and special grant funding for targeted initiatives, including a recent grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information about Live Well Northwest Florida, visit livewellnwfl.org, or connect via Facebook (Live Well Northwest Florida) or Twitter (@LiveWellNWFL).