Hospitals Honored for Community Wellness Efforts

Posted on June 27, 2018

Ann Arbor, Big Rapids and Wayne County Programs Recognized

2018 Ludwig Award winnersThe Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) presented its 2018 Ludwig Community Benefit Award to three of its member hospitals’ programs during the MHA Annual Membership Meeting. The honorees include programs led by Beaumont Health, Southfield; Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, Canton; and Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals. The award is named in memory of Patric E. Ludwig, a former MHA president who championed investing in the community’s overall health, and is presented to member organizations integrally involved in collaborative programs to improve the health and well-being of area residents. Each winner will receive $3,000 from the MHA Health Foundation to assist in its health improvement efforts.

Betty Priskorn, vice president, Community Health & Outreach, Beaumont HealthSouthfield-based Beaumont Health took careful note of the priority needs identified through its regular community health needs assessments, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Recognizing these as preventable or reversible “diseases of lifestyle,” Beaumont launched its Healthy Communities Initiative in Dearborn, Taylor, Trenton, Wayne and Westland in Wayne County to reduce risk factors, create environments that promote health, and teach people how to manage their health.

Michigan’s largest health system chose to make a difference in these communities by listening and earning their trust. So Beaumont launched Healthy Communities as a collaboration with a focus on community engagement and ownership. Each formalized coalition includes residents and individuals representing local government, education and key community organizations.

Each Healthy Community Coalition formed “action teams” focusing on workplace, schools, foods, communications, built environments and health equity. Action teams develop goals and objectives and implement strategies specific to their unique community’s culture. Their coordinated, collective approach allows individual members to have a greater influence on their community’s health than they would achieve by acting individually.

In addition to focusing on five communities, Healthy Communities includes a county-spanning Leadership Coalition that provides expertise and meaningful support. Thousands of residents are benefiting from the initiative’s accomplishments, which include chronic disease prevention programs within the community, hundreds of neighborhood walking groups, a bike-share program, installation of bicycle lanes and walking/biking trails, worksite wellness programs, free community-based exercise sessions and events, new school wellness policies and a nutrition education curriculum, evidence-based health education and screening programs, and more.

In 2018, Healthy Communities will expand to Oakland and Macomb counties.

To learn more about Beaumont Health’s Healthy Communities Initiative, contact Betty Priskorn, vice president, Community Health and Outreach, Beaumont Health, at (313) 586-5492.

Amanda Sweetman, project manager, The Farm at St. Joe'sSaint Joseph Mercy Health System established The Farm at St. Joe’s in April 2010, turning 23 acres of its Ann Arbor hospital campus lawn into arable land. Initially aimed at battling obesity through increased access to fresh produce, The Farm at St. Joe's now delivers better health outcomes for patients, staff and communities.

A collaboration between The Farm at St. Joe's and Eisenhower Center, a traumatic brain injury recovery facility, led to the nation’s first clinically accessible hoop house, where people of all abilities can grow food and participate in rehabilitation activities.

Through relationships with local food banks, providers and hospital clinicians, the farm distributes produce to patients in need and the local community. Cooking classes and recipe demonstrations using the produce also are provided at two area clinics.

The Farm at St. Joe’s has developed an education program that centers on the intersection of agriculture, health and science and provides innovative, place-based instruction to students ranging from preschool to graduate school. Students learn how increased access to healthy food can impact health outcomes.

The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at the farm served 230 participants in 2017, and a grant enabled the farm to give 40 free CSA shares to low-income families. The CSA program extends to medical residents, who also receive education on the concept of food as medicine.

The farm program builds healthier communities by empowering individuals to steward their personal health and well-being. Saint Joseph Mercy Health System considers it to be a model that can be adopted nationwide.

For more information on The Farm at St. Joe’s, contact Laura Blodgett, regional manager, media/public relations, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, at (734) 712-4536.

Beth Langenburg, director of Community Health; Mary Kay VanDriel, president; and Scott Lombard, manager of community education, Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals.Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals determined in 2016 to confront diabetes in Mecosta County, where a third of residents are at risk for the disease due to obesity and a tenth already have diabetes. The hospital teamed up with the city of Big Rapids, various community agencies, the Lions Club and area produce vendors to launch the Big Rapids Farmers Market Health Outreach.

The partners set out to provide residents with better access to healthy foods through the existing, local farmers market. To alleviate the significant transportation barrier for community members with limited income, free round-trip bus rides are provided. To encourage healthier diets, “Prescription for Health” $10 vouchers are distributed to help residents purchase fruits and vegetables at the market. Following its successful first year, the initiative added cooking demonstrations, healthy recipe sampling, nutrition education and diabetes screening, including the more comprehensive HbA1c testing.

In 2017, nearly 900 community members were provided free transportation to the farmers market and almost 150 purchased fruits and vegetables using the program’s vouchers. This represented a nearly threefold increase in those using the free transportation over 2016, and an increase of nearly 62 percent in use of the vouchers. More than 1,300 people sampled healthy food recipes, 22 received HbA1c testing, and 18 were connected to prediabetes and diabetes education.

Plans for 2018 include fitness centers demonstrating exercises for any age group and fitness level, coupled with education on how exercise improves health. Cardiovascular screening through lipid panel testing will also increase the scope of the initiative.    

For more information on the Big Rapids Farmers Market Health Outreach, contact Scott Lombard, manager, community health, Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals, at (231) 592-4493.


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  • Hospitals Honored for Community Wellness Efforts

Tags: Ludwig Community Benefit Award, annual meeting

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