Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Better Ways To Improve Health and Transform Communities

Guest Blogger: Katie Carlin, Director, Research Development, Planning and Communications

Last Tuesday I had the privilege of attending “Population Health and System Integration: Moving Beyond Community Benefit” – this one day program was organized and facilitated by Christopher King, PhD, MedStar Health’s assistant vice president for Community Health in close collaboration with the Advisory Board Company.

Leaders from Henry Ford Health System, Intermountain Health, Yale New Haven Health System, and Johns Hopkins Health System (just to name a few) gathered on the Georgetown Campus to share best practices in the field of population health. The day was outstanding as it provided an in-depth perspective of what peer institutions across the nation are doing to improve the health of residents in some of the most underserved communities in the country.

Perhaps most inspiring was when Christopher King and Gretchen Youssef, MS, RD, Program Manager, MedStar Diabetes Institute presented on the MedStar Hair, Heart, and Health program – of which MHRI provides survey and evaluation support. This program provides free blood pressure monitoring, diabetes screening, and education to participating Barbershops in Washington, DC. With the assistance of onsite care navigators and nutritionists, patrons and their families are now taking a more active role in managing their health. As part of the presentation, two DC barbers joined a panel discussion to share their first-hand experiences with the program. According to one barber, the program has become such a success that every Tuesday night his shop hosts nutrition classes and even a Zumba class! He has become such a believer in the program that he won’t even cut your hair until you’ve had your blood pressure checked. The other barber shared with the group that since participating in the program he has personally lost 25 pounds and now runs every single day. According to the barbers the benefit of the program is that it’s bringing their community important information about hypertension and diabetes and provides them with a warm contact for support and navigation.

The barbers’ touching and personal stories made me proud to be part of a system that is extending important knowledge and resources out into the diverse communities it serves. It was a wonderful day and a great opportunity to learn about the many innovative programs across the nation that are improving the health and wellness of our communities’ one person at a time.


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  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the day Katie. We appreciate your support and the work of MHRI in helping us evaluate the effectiveness of the model.
    Christopher King