After all, we are in the business of providing healthcare to the ill and injured, but we know that it is less expensive for individuals and families to maintain wellness than it is to treat chronic illness. It is also less expensive for hospitals and doctor’s offices to prevent than to treat existing injury and illness. In many instances healthcare organizations are better reimbursed for care related to health maintenance than they are for treating chronic illnesses and injuries.
It’s much more than a financial benefit for which we strive, though. As a faith-based, non-profit organization, our mission is to “extend the healing ministry of Jesus… especially those most in need.” To that end, every three years we engage in a Community Health Needs Assessment. Utilizing health data statistics from various sources such as the Health Communities Institute Database and with input from community leaders, healthcare leaders, business leaders, and civic authorities, we determine which healthcare issues are most important. We then strategize how we might best improve these issues to the betterment of our community. We target community education to populations including the elderly and pediatric population to focus on disease processes that have been identified as high priority areas from the Community Health Needs Assessment and address not only current state of health but also illness prevention.
Between July, 2015, and June, 2016, St. Elizabeth provided over 190 community screenings and community education seminars, and reached more than 2,500 members of the community. Some of the screenings included blood pressure, blood sugar, and BMI screenings at local churches, cancer screenings, and community health fairs. Seminars included topics such as smoking cessation, diet and high blood pressure, diabetes prevention education, maintaining heart health, and fall prevention awareness. St. Elizabeth partnered with many community organizations and government entities such as The Church in Donaldsonville, the Ascension Parish Library, Ascension Counseling Center, and the Capital Area Agency on Aging to reach as many members of the community as we could.
St. Elizabeth also partnered with members of the business community throughout the year to provide programming such as flu shots and CPR education to employees of local industry and businesses. In total, St. Elizabeth contributed more than $300,000 in fiscal year 2016 in community-related events, nursing and student education, and community health education and screenings. The Vitality Institute in its July 2015 report, “Beyond the Four Walls: Why Community is Critical to Workforce Health” identified the following potential gains to employers through partnership: Improving and maintaining the health of their employees (decreasing their own health care costs in the long term), Increasing retention/engagement/interest in their business, and tapping into major market trends that are of interest to investors and other potential partners/stakeholders. [Oziransky, Vera, Derek Yach, Alexandra Luterek, and Denise Stevens. Beyond the Four Walls: Why Community Is Critical to Workforce Health.