Fostering Partnerships 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 our 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 that we are stronger by working together, LG Health partners with organizations throughout our community to address priority public-health issues with evidence-based, best-practice and innovative approaches.
These include a long-standing and successful collaboration with the School District of Lancaster establishing three school-based health clinics at the Carter & MacRae, Fulton and King elementary schools that last year provided more than 2,000 medically underserved children with free primary and preventive care. On December 5th, 2016, Lancaster General Health opened a new health center at McCaskey High School, providing increased access to primary care services for students. An extension of Downtown Family Medicine, this health center aims to meet the needs of students by providing medical care where and when they need it, while teaching students to be informed healthcare consumers.
Other community partnerships include Let’s Talk, Lancaster, which seeks to improve mental health and well-being in Lancaster County. Our vision is a vibrant Lancaster Community that promotes and supports an environment where people live mentally healthy lives. We work to increase awareness of the connection between mental health and physical health, reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, promote resiliency and well-being, and improve the connection between primary care and mental health care.
LG Health continues to spearhead Lighten Up Lancaster County, which works to create a culture that supports healthy eating and physical activity. With the support of this innovative coalition, one-third of the 113 public schools in Lancaster County have created vegetable gardens, touching the lives of more than 23,000 students. When the produce harvested by the students it may be used within the school, sent home or donated to community organizations.
To fight substance misuse & abuse in Lancaster County in partnership with Lancaster County Anti-Heroin Task Force, LG Health facilitated nine town hall meetings last year drawing nearly 1,500 participants. LG Health continues work to reduce the use of highly addictive tobacco products with Tobacco Free Lancaster County. In response to the increasing number of youth in Lancaster County who report using e-cigarettes, but are unaware of what they are vaping, LG Health took action. In 2016, LG Health launched the #itsnotjustwater campaign, geared to educate youth that the substance they are vaping most likely contains harmful chemicals, and NOT JUST WATER.
In 2016, LG Health provided health educational gatherings in homes, churches and local organizations to over 200 participants from the Amish, Latino and African American communities. Each year we provide Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings and diagnostic services through the Healthy Woman Program, Susan G. Komen Philadelphia for the Cure, Help the Fight and Tanger grant programs to over 400 women. Additionally, LG Health coordinates Dental Access Lancaster County (DALCO), a network of 114 volunteer dentists providing primary dental care to 247 residents of Lancaster County.
Lancaster County is home to America’s oldest Amish settlement, made up of more than 35,000 people. With help from community partners, LG Health has provided free immunizations to at-risk Amish children for 25 years. Our Amish neighbors are also participants in LG Health’s Annual Farm and Family Safety Day program.
Reducing Accident Rates Among Our Amish Neighbors
A simple and low-cost device known as a “hay-hole cover” is a great example of the care with which LG Health crafts its community health strategies. LG Health physicians noticed a growing number of Emergency Department patients, primarily from the Amish community, with head trauma and other injuries after falling through a hay hole. Hay holes, generally located on the second story of a barn, are used to drop feed to animals below. LG Health community health experts teamed up with the Penn State Agricultural Extension, Penn State Hershey Medical Center and the Pennsylvania Amish Safety Committee to create and distribute the hay-hole cover pictured here. A year later, we saw a significant decrease in the number of head trauma cases caused by hay-hole accidents.