Want to Boost Community Health? It’s Time to Mobilize and Collaborate

Imagine for a moment if every health care facility in the nation looked beyond its in-house programming. What if each took its strategic plans, presented them to local medical services and health-based nonprofit agencies in its community, and created a web of partnerships? This way, each business would support the next in a networked collaboration for the greater good.

Well, it’s happening! This approach to community health integration is often referred to as asset-based management. Essentially, community health agencies and businesses are seeking out opportunities within their own backyards to not only strengthen their programming, but also to enhance other organizations’. Rather than starting new programming, the idea is to use what’s already available through new partnerships. These collaborations are a cost-effective way to approach problem-solving at a community level.

One specific initiative provides health and social services to everyone, with all parties involved possessing a genuine interest in a successful outcome.

Asset-Based Management in Action

Marisue Garganta is the director of community health integration and community benefit at Dignity Health, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Barrow Neurological Institute, and St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. She works on helping health care facilities solve problems and tackle community concerns that would otherwise be underserved or ignored. This is done by seeking out organizations that share similar values and could therefore join forces to support services that create a healthier community.

Through community health integration efforts, multiple care communities have developed to address issues affecting the people her health care facilities serve. The results of these initiatives have yielded valuable health services such as the MOMobile, which provides free prenatal services in areas of disparity via a mobile medical office that parks at community centers and churches, and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, which strives to break down barriers between caregivers and patients with Parkinson’s disease through art programs and support groups.

Garganta says this approach has come about by adopting a holistic way of thinking: You simply have to transform your view and reach out to community partners who can bring their best assets to the table and help make your vision a reality.

Using These Concepts in Your Community

Is there an issue in your community that your business would love to address but can’t seem to find the funding or partner organization to tackle? Consider adopting the asset-based management mindset. Sometimes what you need is already in place; it just isn’t aligned with your goals yet.

Leverage community outreach programs and organizations in your town to partner with your business and make a greater community impact. Maybe you have talents and skills you could personally offer to a local group?

You won’t realize your full potential — whether as a business or as an individual — until you move beyond your current way of thinking and fully explore the talent, resources, and ideas already alive and well in your community. If you don’t reach out and make those connections, who will?

Image source: Flickr