MADISON (WKOW) -- Getting and staying healthy takes a lot of work. For some area residents, it’s more than just planning healthy meals and fitting in the recommended daily exercise. Unemployment, lack of transportation, lack of financial stability and more can make it nearly impossible for some to access the health care they need to stay healthy.
Dean & St. Mary’s Community Relations Specialist Lisa Bell sees the needs of these vulnerable residents first-hand.
“Many families living in Dane County lack the basic resources they need to access quality health care,” says Bell. “From lacking the financial resources to pay for expensive medications to being unable to physically go to necessary doctor’s appointments, many factors come into play.”
On Tuesday, Bell along with Chelsea Stover with Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation stopped by Wake Up Wisconsin to talk about the importance of community health.
The term “community health” generally references the overall health of people who live in a specific geographic area or other defined community. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) created a Division of Community Health as a way to help Americans prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Through coordinated efforts across the country, local public health departments, hospitals and community groups are bringing sharper focus to these chronic diseases as a way to both improve quality of life for those living with chronic conditions, as well as prevent more people from developing those conditions.
To help, Dean & St. Mary’s launched the Helping to Improve the Health of Dane County grant program. Over the course of the next three years, this grant will provide up to $450,000 in total funding to local non-profit organizations focused on improving health in the priority areas of mental health, chronic disease and maternal child health.
Dean & St. Mary’s received a total of 24 proposals seeking funding through the Helping to Improve the Health of Dane County. A review panel of six SSM Health members (representing Dean Clinics, St. Mary’s Hospital, Dean Health Plan and St. Mary’s Foundation) and three highly respected community members evaluated each proposal to determine which proposals would receive funding through the program.
Earlier this month, Dean & St. Mary’s announced the winners of the first year of funding support:
* Second Harvest Food Bank - Funding will benefit the Diabetes Wellness Program, a nine-month effort that will help at least 200 people better control their disease. The program includes distribution of food boxes especially packaged for those coping with diabetes. Second Harvest plans to expand the program into Rock and Sauk counties during the program’s second and third year of operation.
* Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation - The grant will support an in-home smoking cessation program for pregnant women – that will continue six months after they deliver their babies – as well as provide services for adults in their support networks. This program will also be available to Rock and Sauk counties in its second and third year.
* Catholic Charities - Focusing on youth suicide prevention in Wisconsin, the grant will fund a program to bring mental health services to rural school age children in Deerfield and Marshall.
* Rebalanced Life Wellness Association - By funding mentorship and education, the grant will help high-risk African American men increase physical activity, learn about healthy eating and nutrition, and promote volunteerism and social support.