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Community Health and Wellness Department expands its reach into the community

YMCA, Italian Home for Children and JPNDC Logos

In 2019, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital undertook a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) to inform its community-based efforts in the priority neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and West Roxbury. As a result of that process, the Community Health and Wellness Department has devised a three-year plan, called the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), to help address the needs of the community. In fiscal year 2020, as part of its Strategic Goals, the hospital has committed to implementing the first year of the CHIP.

“Based on our most recent CHNA, we know there is more work to be done in the community around chronic illness like diabetes and hypertension, behavioral health and financial wellbeing,” says Community Health and Wellness Director Tracy Sylven. “In the coming months, we are launching three new programs that will tackle these issues head-on and hopefully create lasting, positive change in the lives of our community members.”

YMCA Jumpstart Program

The Jumpstart Program, funded and in collaboration with BWFH, is a new initiative being offered at the Parkway Community YMCA and the Thomas M. Menino YMCA. The program which is designed to address the pressing medical needs of those living with chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension will support behavioral changes needed to make improvements on individuals health. The work emphasizes nutrition education and highlights measures that participants can take to make eating healthy an affordable part of their lives as well as regular physical exercise and increased activity. “The YMCA is proud to Partner with BWFH in supporting folks in making manageable changes through healthy eating and exercise in order to improve their overall health,” says William Alves, Executive Director of the Thomas M. Menino YMCA.

Participants in the program receive a one-year membership to the YMCA and attend coaching sessions with YMCA Ambassadors who will help tailor a healthy living plan to meet the individual’s medical concerns and goals. All participants will have full facility access and will be able to attend over 150 free group exercise classes that will meet the exercise requirements of the program. Additionally, there will be a variety of offerings and support from the BWFH nutrition team.

The funds from BWFH will allow up to 20 participants to benefit from the program at no cost. Patients from BWFH can be referred to the program, and the progress tracking portion of the program can be used to assist medical care professionals in individual patient care.

Italian Home for Children Trauma-Informed Behavior-Based Interventions

The Italian Home for Children, with help from BWFH, is launching phase II of its Trauma-Informed Behavior-Based Interventions (TIBBI) Program. TIBBI weaves together the practices of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and trauma-informed care to improve short- and long-term outcomes for children and families who have experienced trauma, substance abuse and/or have behavioral health issues.

In phase I, the program was launched on a small scale in one of the residential dorms where clinicians and childcare counselors were trained by a senior member of Italian Home for Children’s staff who is licensed in ABA and has extensive training in trauma-informed care. The clinicians and childcare counselors used their training in their interactions with the children for a period of eight months. During that time, staff reported that these trainings were helpful and gave them insight into behavior and how to interact with the children. The trainer discussed with staff the various trauma that these children have endured and how that can affect their development and interactions. After the training, staff reported decreases in unwanted behaviors across many of the children in the pilot.

In phase II, the program will expand to include simultaneous but separate support and educational groups for children and caretakers. The curriculum for both the caregiver and child groups will include a half hour of support and socialization with the aim to build a community of children/caregivers who can gain understanding and learn about resources from others facing similar experiences. The support group is then followed by free dinner and workshops from professionals. The free education will build on the family’s own expertise and assist in increasing family cohesion, decreasing conflict, adjusting behaviors and expectations, increasing coping skills and understanding the trauma children and families can experience, including substance abuse and behavioral health diagnoses.

Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation Family Prosperity Services

Working together with the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), BWFH hopes to address the root causes of health inequalities. To do this, BWFH has committed to providing grant money toward JPNDC’s Family Prosperity Services.

Family Prosperity Services help low-income households take steps toward financial health by creating and following a budget, reviewing their credit report, establishing financial goals, tracking and reducing expenses, reducing debt and opening a savings account. They also help create a pipe-line to entry-level jobs. Many of these entry-level jobs happen to be the ones BWFH has a hard time filling. Through this partnership, the JPNDC will identify, prepare and refer potential job candidates. They will guide these individuals through the hiring process and provide support to ensure they are successful once hired.

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