The Long Branch Health Enterprise Zone has changed its name to Healthy Long Branch and has become a pathway to pacesetter community within the Institute for Health Care Improvement’s 100 Million Healthier Lives Campaign.This represents a stronger commitment to addressing the social determinants of health. Public health research has documented social factors, such as the quality of neighborhoods, housing, social connections and supports, economic opportunity, and education are the main drivers of health. Although healthcare access and quality are important, it doesn’t determine whether people are getting sick in the first place. And treating illness won’t be very effective if patients are always in circumstances that cause poor health. Healthy Long Branch will make a greater emphasis on addressing the social determinants at the community level.
In August Healthy Long Branch applied to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s 100 Million Healthier Lives Campaign to become a pathway to pacesetter communityand was recently accepted. As a pathway to pacesetter community coalition members get training, peer counseling, and other supports for developing strategies to optimize health in Long Branch and Takoma Park.
It has been more than three years since the first meeting of the LBHEZ. Our work has yielded valuable achievements. We were able to assemble and map a Health and Wellness Inventory for Long Branch. We worked with community partners to conduct diabetes wellness circles and participate in activities to promote health, such as through the prevention of diabetes and other chronic diseases. We hired six community health outreach specialists to connect Long Branch residents to health and wellness resources in the community. The Outreach program has resulted in more than 2,200 direct contacts. Analysis and findings from outreach in 2014 resulted in findings that suggest that there are ways we can improve health care access. The health outreach specialists are now engaged in a pilot program to improve access to primary care and improve the health of those who do not currently have primary care.
Healthy Long Branch will continue this important work in healthcare, but it will also expand its scope to support efforts to create a healthy community. This includes efforts that promote social equity, provide safe and secure homes in neighborhoods where people know and support each other, and development that promotes economic opportunity and offers safe and comfortable spaces for people to live, work, and play.