What is it?
With the goal of improving health and quality of life for local residents, local hospitals brought together various health organizations and created a mission to serve the most vulnerable populations – the underinsured, uninsured, working poor, and those hard-to-reach populations due to language and cultural challenges. The result was Waukesha’s Community Outreach Initiative. The program improves access to health care for underserved and underinsured resident populations. Services now include:
- Community-based nurses in 71 locations including shelters, community centers, churches, and schools
- An emergency medication access program
- Facilitation of free dental and vision services for uninsured children
- Participation in community-based screening events and health fairs to provide screening, early detection and education related to chronic diseases
- A Hispanic Community Health Resource Center with bilingual staff providing culturally competent services, education, and advocacy
The Community Outreach Initiative is a collaboration with local social service agencies, schools, churches, shelters, a family practice residency and its local clinic, participating physicians, and employees.
Who is it for?
Low-income families, frail elderly, and the Hispanic community – three groups that were largely underserved.
Why do they do it?
The initiative was born out of Waukesha Memorial Hospital’s Parish Nurse Programs. The Waukesha community realized that not all of their residents had access to the care they needed.
As a result of Community Outreach Initiative programs, thousands of individuals are provided with health care information and links to services each year. For example, during the past year, the Hispanic Community Health Resource Center had more than 7,000 contacts with area individuals.
Advice to others
Taking the following steps will help ensure the program’s success:
- Build and nurture collaborative relationships; recognize that no single organization can improve community health alone.
- Develop programs in a careful, systematic way.
- Listen to what your clients and patients need.
- Exercise patience – building trust in the community takes time.
- Support families with ongoing health care maintenance; some families have limited skills to independently manage their health needs.
Contact: Tiffany Steffen, RN, MBA/HCM
Care Management and Chronic Care Programs Director