Five hospital-led partnerships to improve community health received 2016 AHA NOVA Awards July 19 at the Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit in San Diego.

The winning programs are Baylor Scott & White Health’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute (DHWI) at the Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center in Dallas; the Healthy Communities Initiative, East Ocean View in Norfolk, Va.; the Mobile Dental Program at the Memorial Hermann Community Benefit Corporation in Houston; Strong Beginnings in Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Get Healthy, Live Well in Carrollton, Ga.

DHWI, a joint effort by Baylor Scott & White Health-North Texas, the city of Dallas and 17 community organizations, works to improve diabetes management, health outcomes and overall wellness in the Southern Dallas community of Frazier. More than 4,000 residents have received medical services or participated in weekly lifestyle programs, such as nutritional cooking and exercise classes, meal planning and support groups.

Led by Bon Secours Hampton Roads Health System, the Healthy Communities Initiative is designed to increase access to fresh foods in East Ocean View, a small coastal community devastated by remnants of Hurricane Ida in 2009. Programs include a food pantry and community garden; a “Passport to Health” initiative that promotes family eating, exercise and healthier lifestyles; primary care services provided through a mobile medical unit; and nurse navigators that help residents access the health care system to get the medical care and services they need.

Memorial Hermann Health System partnered with five area school districts to create a Mobile Dental Program that provides free dental care to uninsured children. Three 40-foot vans rotate year-round at 10 Memorial Hermann school-based health centers to provide exams, X-rays, cleanings, sealants, fillings, extractions and some cosmetic procedures to students. The program also educates children and families on proper dental care at home, including making healthy food choices.

Strong Beginnings is a partnership of Spectrum Health and seven other organizations working to improve maternal-child health in Kent County’s disadvantaged largely African-American communities, which have higher infant mortality rates than their white counterparts. It targets health care needs in neighborhoods affected by issues like poverty, unemployment, limited transportation and a lack of affordable housing. The program employs a team of 20 community health workers, who help educate and encourage women throughout their pregnancies and through the first two years of their infants’ lives. Through its efforts, the black infant mortality rate in Kent County has been cut in half over the past decade.   

Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well is a network of more than 160 national, state and local partners – including schools, faith-based organizations and civic groups – that came together to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent chronic disease for residents of Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties, where fried foods are popular, cancer is an issue and hypertension is a problem. The partnership aims to decrease health disparities, reduce obesity rates, eliminate tobacco use, increase physical activity and improve nutrition. It offers a variety of programs and awareness campaigns that include free smoking cessation and health education classes, and a weight loss challenge.

The AHA created the NOVA Awards in 1993 to pay tribute to hospitals and health systems that go beyond caring for the ill and injured and to help people live healthier, more productive lives.

“Hospitals care not only for patients, but also work tirelessly with community groups and organizations to offer the most to those in need beyond the walls of their buildings,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “The programs recognized by the AHA NOVA Award inspire us all with their collaborative, caring approach to improving community health and wellness.”