Working Together to Address Community Health Priorities
For Lancaster General Health, advancing the health and well-being of the community means not waiting until people become patients. We recognize a person’s health is influenced and impacted by social and economic factors in the places where they live, learn, work and play.
In the wake of LG Health’s most recent Community Health Needs Assessment, LG Health has identified specific strategies to address the top three health challenges facing Lancaster County: mental health and well-being, obesity and substance misuse and abuse. Detailed in the 2016-2019 Community Health Improvement Plan, many of these strategies focus on prevention and addressing barriers to achieving optimal health.
Knowing we are stronger by working together, LG Health partners with organizations throughout the community to address priority public-health issues with evidence-based, best-practice and innovative approaches.
Battling Obesity Where it Starts
Living in a healthy community makes it easier to pursue an active lifestyle and eat a healthy diet. In 2017, LG Health created new opportunities for people to move more, to eat well and to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
In late October, an LG Health-sponsored bike-share station with five bicycles opened in Lancaster City’s Rotary Park. The program seeks to help residents incorporate movement into their everyday lives by making bikes accessible and affordable.
In Southwest Lancaster City, LG Health launched a new walking route with WalkWorks, a state program that promotes walkable communities and encourages neighborhood walking groups. In partnership with Lancaster Rec, the Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster, Community Action Partnership and the City of Lancaster, LG Health created a 1.5-mile route beginning and ending at Farnum Park.
LG Health also expanded its Healthy Corner Stores initiative to 25 stores, ensuring healthy food is within reach in every neighborhood of the city. Since the program’s start in 2013, every location has added fruits and vegetables, 90 percent have added healthy proteins, 83 percent have added grains and 67 percent have added dairy products. New refrigeration units and shelving have helped local store owners redefine “convenience” foods in Lancaster City.
Reducing Barriers to Mental Health Help
Let's Talk, Lancaster, a United Way collective impact partnership facilitated by LG Health, continued to integrate medical and behavioral health care services and to improve access to mental-health services. The partnership also helped reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, and improved communication between physical- and behavioral health providers.
All health systems affiliated with Let's Talk, Lancaster — serving approximately 80 percent of Lancaster County’s population — now screen for depression during routine office visits with all patients age 13 and older. A health questionnaire gives patients an opportunity to discuss mental-health concerns and streamlines how physicians handle referrals to behavioral health counselors. The goal is to make mental health an integral part of preventive care.
In 2015, LG Health became the lead partner of Let’s Talk, Lancaster to ensure that those needing behavioral health interventions can receive the care they need. Through the Mental Health Co-Pay Assistance Program, Let's Talk, Lancaster offers co-pay assistance for mental-health services to low-income individuals and families, in addition to helping applicants find a primary-care provider and apply for insurance. To date, Let's Talk, Lancaster has provided 143 patients with more than $67,000 of co-pay assistance.
To strengthen the culture of mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, Let's Talk, Lancaster became a regional partner of the national Change Direction campaign, and actively promoted the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering.
By late 2017, nearly 71,000 people learned about the five signs that may mean someone is in emotional pain and might need help. LG Health hopes to reach 275,000 Lancaster residents by 2019. By being more open and honest about our emotional health and well-being, we can prevent pain and suffering, and those in need will get the help they deserve.
Preventing and Treating Tobacco Use
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, and harms nearly every organ of the body. LG Health is committed to providing treatment for those addicted and to preventing tobacco use. For example, it uses an evidence-based curriculum to teach more than 5,000 third- to eighth-graders in Lancaster County about the health effects of smoking.
Recognizing the increasing rate of youth using electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), LG Health developed the It’s Not Just Water campaign to raise awareness of the ingredients contained in e-cigs and ENDS.
In 2017, LG Health physicians referred more than 500 patients to smoking cessation programs. In turn, LG Health group and individual programs provided treatment to 170 participants. In all, 88 people quit smoking.