Memorial Hospital of South Bend is taking the Plunge as it continually works towards creating a healthier community. The Hospital's Community Plunge initiative takes leaders beyond the boardroom walls to find out what’s really going on outside. By looking beyond those walls, we discover that non-medical issues such as employment, education, housing and transportation impact the health status of our community.
Beacon Health System CEO Phil Newbold maintains that in order to create a healthier community, "We must recognize the gaps in services and begin to develop partnerships which will help to fill those gaps."
The Community Plunge is a way to help close those gaps as leaders become involved in the community to help improve the health status of those who live there. The Plunge provides leaders a way to more fully engage in learning about their community at the grassroots level, while providing the opportunity to form essential connections to creating a healthier place to live. Organizations get connected with communities, faces are put with the statistics, and people are motivated to act.
A valuable tool for getting back in touch with your community, the Plunge serves as a complement to more formal needs assessment surveys and other activities aimed at refocusing your organization on improving community health status. The Plunge offers your leadership an experiential learning opportunity that puts them in touch with both the needs and strengths of the community your organization serves. By listening to people's personal stories, and by asking questions of the people they meet, Plunge participants can develop a new understanding of the dynamics of their community.
"Most of what makes people sick has very little to do with the medical care system," says medical futurist Leland Kaiser, Ph.D., whose vision of collaborative, community-based health care has helped guide Memorial's leadership. "The major variables of morbidity in a population are sanitation, nutrition, lifestyles, education and income. And most of those are outside the medical system."
Memorial believes a healthy community is as much a social, economic and environmental issue as it is a medical one. The Community Plunge is a vehicle to better connect us all as we endeavor to learn as much as we can about the people we serve.
The experience will be useful in:
• Developing a better understanding of the assets and resources in your community
• Creating partnerships that make the most effective use of your community's resources
• Identifying unmet needs in the community
To learn more about the Community Plunge initiative and when the next experience is, contact Patty Willaert, community health outreach coordinator, at 647-1353.