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Building a Healthy Community Together

Education, Outreach Vital Strategies in Addressing Priorities

The phrase, “It takes a village,” describes the strategy being used in addressing healthcare needs for all community members in Calvert County. To help put all the pieces together on what CalvertHealth is doing to help our community become healthier, we asked Director of Education & Training and Community Wellness Mary Golway, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, and Community Wellness Manager Erin Farley, MSN, RN, to explain the process.

Identifying Challenges

The first step in working to build a healthy community is identifying problems and setting priorities every 3 years to fix them.

Priority: Cancer
Incidence rate of breast cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma, cervical cancer and colon cancer were all higher than state and national rates, with breast cancer showing an alarming increase.

Priority: Heart Disease and Stroke
With Calvert’s population skewing toward an aging population, the incidence of heart disease skews higher as well, higher than state and national rates.

Priority: Mental Health & Mental Disorders
Calvert County’s rate of hospitalizations due to adolescent suicide, intentional self-inflicted injury and pediatric mental health are more than two times the state rate. The death rate from suicide is higher than state and national figures. Further, the hospitalization rate due to pediatric mental health is nearly three times the state average.

Priority: Exercise , Nutrition & Weight
The percentage of Calvert County adults who are obese is higher than state and national percentages and is rising.

Understanding Priorities and Needs

With almost 350 providers offering more than 45 specialties, CalvertHealth in FY20 served 92,828 patients through outpatient services, deliveries, hospital stays, surgeries and emergencies. However, according to Golway, through data collected for the 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment, not all members of the community who need health care are getting it.

Gaps in information linked to medical care and subsequent health outcomes were found throughout the data that was compiled in the assessment. “Delays in seeking care and receiving care directly correspond to delays in diagnosis, treatment and recovery,” said Golway.

In all priority areas, lack of knowledge and understanding was identified as a key theme and providing education programs, expanding outreach and increasing community resources were listed as strategies to address these gaps in information.

“It is the responsibility of CalvertHealth’s Community Wellness team to start the conversation on how to bring awareness of health issues to everyone in the community,” said Farley. “CHMC takes pride in being the catalyst to bring subject matter experts together to discuss the health of our community and ways we can work together to resolve some of these disparities.”

Coming Together to Address Challenges

Once the health priorities have been identified through the Calvert County Health Needs Assessment, CalvertHealth’s Community Wellness hosts a roundtable with all community members who will play a part in addressing the priorities.

“By working collaboratively to identify root causes and establish achievable goals, the Community Health Improvement Roundtable is able to create action plans, monitor what we’ve accomplished year to year and then refocus goals to ensure community health needs are being met,” said Golway.

The roundtable included CalvertHealth Medical Center staff, Calvert County Health Department, Calvert County Social Services, Calvert County Public Schools, Calvert County Office on Aging, the ARC of Southern Maryland, Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse, Calvert County United Way, Calvert County Sheriff’s Department, Calvert Family Network and Calvert Hospice.

Out of the roundtable meeting, four subcommittees were identified to collaborate and brainstorm in their areas of expertise. Each subcommittee draws on their members to plan the best ways to reach members from different demographics:

  • Cancer and Tobacco Coalition
  • Diabetes Task Force
  • Behavioral Health, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Task Force
  • Health Ministry

“A common thread through all four priority areas and all four subcommittees is how to address health disparities and inequities in the community,” said Golway.

“Taking care of the health needs of all people in our community is a big job and no one organization can do it alone,” said CalvertHealth President and CEO Dean Teague. “We are proud to work shoulder-to-shoulder with amazing people who represent state and local government, nonprofits and businesses as we help people from every corner of Calvert County live their healthiest lives.”
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