Southeastern Health receives grant to target local wellness issues

Staff Report

Lekisha Hammonds

LUMBERTON — Southeastern Health has been awarded a grant from The Duke Endowment to help improve health in Robeson County.

Southeastern Health and the Healthy Robeson Task Force, a diverse group of community organizations working collaboratively, is one of 10 participants in The Duke Endowment’s initiative called Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas. The grant will be disbursed in increments of $150,000 during the next three years.

The program takes a bold approach to addressing chronic health issues such as unhealthy weight, diabetes and heart disease. Local coalitions will involve leaders of community organizations in developing ways to engage residents in improving their health.

Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas is now expanding to five new counties with plans to expand throughout the Carolinas over the coming years. The initiative began in early 2016 in Catawba, Chatham, Vance, Montgomery, Richmond and Wilkes counties.

Research shows that North Carolina ranks 31st among all states when it comes to the overall health of its residents, with two-thirds of residents considered overweight or obese. Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas recognizes that health and well-being are created and sustained through individual and clinical efforts and through the cooperation and support of the local community.

“We are delighted to have this financial support from The Duke Endowment for use with the development of a marketing plan, assessing the impact of our efforts, as well as for the development of an impact framework,” said Lekisha Hammonds, Southeastern Health community health services director and healthy Robeson task force leader.

Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas provides opportunities to bring together leaders from hospitals, health departments and other health-promoting organizations. A crucial first step, funded by The Duke Endowment’s grant, is to strengthen the infrastructure of the local coalitions that are coordinating the effort, so they’re well positioned to identify and implement interventions that work.

“The health challenges facing the Carolinas have been decades in the making,” said Lin Hollowell, director of health care of the Duke Endowment. “They cannot be effectively addressed overnight, though we’re starting to see the roots of progress take hold in the first set of Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas communities. The health challenges also cannot be solved by individuals and organizations working alone. Through Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas, communities can work together to confront their problems and make the most progress in achieving solutions.”

Representatives from the coalitions will participate in a learning collaborative with opportunities to share information with each other as they develop best practices for organizing, planning and implementing evidence-based programs known to improve health.

“The coalitions selected by the Endowment are intentionally diverse and unique,” said Laura Edwards of Population Health Improvement Partners. “While there will be many opportunities for exchanging ideas, each community will receive support to pave its own path forward. The hope is that eventually the lessons of these coalitions can inform the work of others throughout the Carolinas.”

Population Health Improvement Partners is the North Carolina-based organization that provides expert assistance to each local coalition.

Lekisha Hammonds Hammonds

Staff Report

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