Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center reaches out to the community to meet local health needs and support community wellness. In partnership with Wabasha County Public Health, the hospital has identified four priority areas:
- Prevention and wellness: Emphasis on healthy eating and active living
- Senior health: Emphasis on fall prevention and chronic disease management
- Mental health: Emphasis on improving accessing to local mental health services and providers
- Oral health: Emphasis on improving access to dental services for low-income population.
In the area of prevention and wellness, Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center collaborated with Wabasha, Plainview, Elgin and Millville to help over 800 children and their families enhance healthy habits. Through elementary school activities, community events, primary care provider engagement and workplace programming, families benefited from improved lifestyles by eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, reducing screen time (TV, computer, phone) to less than two hours per day, being active one hour or more a day and replacing sugary drinks with water and low-fat milk.
The hospital also promoted efforts to increase consumption of healthy foods. Partnerships with farmers and vendors at the Wabasha Farmers’ Market improved access to local foods in schools and restaurants. Wabasha-Kellogg Schools shopped at the farmers’ market and passed on local goodness to their students. School staff had the opportunity to obtain Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes brimming with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Low-income residents received free produce at the farmers’ market through a voucher system supported by Wabasha Area Community Resource Center and Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center.
Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center also worked to help educate the community about healthy eating. Fifteen food shelf volunteers participated in a workshop facilitated by the University of Minnesota Extension Office that provided education and resources to help make healthy eating an easier choice for their clients. Workshops were also held to teach residents how to buy and prepare fresh-from-the-garden produce. With grant funding, the hospital partnered with the Wabasha Farmers’ Market to implement Order Up Healthy, a restaurant initiative that aims to make healthy eating the easy choice when dining out.To support senior health, Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center equipped and trained facilitators to teach evidence-based support and education programs to help older adults reduce their health risks and live better with chronic diseases. Dozens of area seniors are living better with chronic diseases and reducing falls by attending community classes such as Living Well With Chronic Conditions, Matter of Balance (MOB) and Tools for Caregivers.
Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center worked with local partners to support both mental health and oral health. In the mental health arena, the hospital, Wabasha County Public Health and regional partners collaborated to assist in opening a new family counseling center in Wabasha, establishing a new crisis response hotline and mobile team, and recruiting more mental health nurse practitioners in the county to improve access to mental health services. To promote oral health, grant funding to a local dental office improved access to dental services for low-income families.
While the journey to improving community health is ongoing, partners feel good about the role each is playing in achieving community health improvement goals.