The Pulse | Thursday, November 7, 2019
Creating a Successful Community Outreach Program
The endoscopy team at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago made a commitment to help people live well in their immediate service area. To meet the health care needs, the team created a program to help spread awareness about GI-related health issues and other diseases throughout their local community. Below are a few tips to help establish a successful outreach program in your community.
1. Establish a Dedicated Team of Professionals
An essential element in any successful community outreach program is to have a dedicated team of health professionals who are committed to the program. Our GI team consists of members who live in the community and have unique perspectives on how to reach the community, where to schedule events and what method of sharing information is most effective.
2. Know Your Community
To ensure these planned activities are meeting the health needs in the community, a needs assessment must be completed. At Advocate Trinity Hospital, programs are developed and facilitated by our GI team which includes RNs, GI schedulers and the nurse navigator for the endoscopy unit. We also work closely with leading organizations, such as the American Cancer Society. Our goal is to heighten awareness of the health issues that affect our immediate service area.
There are challenges when providing health education to the community. The first step is getting to know the community — know where people like to gather, such as churches, community centers or health care centers. You must have a clear understanding of the community’s socio-economic status; this will determine if or how participants can pay for services or programs you are promoting. The nurse navigator assists by having appropriate resources available. Also, it is imperative to be aware of language barriers. If you are planning education and there is a group in your service area that does not speak English as their first language, it is imperative to have members of your team speak that group’s primary language to make the initial connection.
3. Partner With Other Units
Because Advocate Trinity Hospital’s service area has a high incidence of colon cancer and breast cancer, our endoscopy team doesn’t only focus on colon health and screening colonoscopies. We partner with other teams to attend community events, where we also raise awareness about heart disease, breast cancer and men’s health. We use every opportunity to educate our community. By providing education on healthy lifestyles and screening practices such as colonoscopy and mammograms, we can save lives.
A successful outreach program is designed to make your community members aware of health issues and help them understand preventative measures. Reaching out to the community and positively impacting health outcomes in that community is a rewarding aspect of the GI team’s role outside the hospital unit.