COMMUNITY HEALTH IMPROVEMENT PLAN

“What does a healthy community look like to you?”

In 2015, the City of Worcester Division of Public Health as the lead agency of the Central MA Regional Public Health Alliance, in partnership with UMass Memorial and Fallon Health, sought to answer this question and others about the health status of the communities of Greater Worcester through a Community Health Assessment (CHA). That process revealed a number of priorities our community needs to address in order to best improve health. Using the information that was gathered in the CHA, including the input of over 1,500 individuals who live, work, learn, or play in the Greater Worcester region, a process began to create this Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). A CHIP is used as roadmap for health improvement over a 3-5 year period and guides the investment of resources of not only the health department, hospitals, and health plans, but of any and all organizations that have a stake in improving health for the residents of Worcester and the surrounding communities. The 2016 CHIP has 9 overarching aims, 31 measurable objectives, and 100 actionable strategies, within the framework of 1 overarching goal and 3 core principles were finalized. A brief summary of those follow.

 

 

1 GOAL

Health Equity

3 CORE PRINCIPLES

Invest first in the community | Empower, listen to, and respect community voice | Eliminate gaps between services

9 PRIORITY AREAS

Racism & Discrimination | Substance Use | Access to Care | Mental Health | Economic Opportunity | Cultural Responsiveness | Access to Healthy Food | Physical Activity | Safety

1 GOAL

HEALTH EQUITY

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation defines health equity as meaning “that all people, regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status, sex or age, have equal opportunity to develop and maintain health through equal access to resources.” At the outset of the CHA and CHIP process, partners agreed that success in community health improvement is defined as equity, and therefore all initiatives under the CHIP must work towards this shared goal. Community members who participated in the CHA and partners alike agree that every member of the community deserves the opportunity to be healthy. To that end, health equity is not one goal among many, it is the goal.

 

 

3 CORE PRINCIPLES

INVEST FIRST IN THE COMMUNITY

Whether access to food, the built environment, or job readiness; over and over, the solution to many of the barriers to health appears as investing first in the community. This means that in order to improve health, jobs should be available first to those who live in the community; food should be bought first from growers from the area; and gaps in the workforce should be addressed through training and education of local residents, rather than attracting professionals from elsewhere.

 

EMPOWER, LISTEN TO, AND RESPECT COMMUNITY VOICE

In every discussion of how to improve health, residents and partners discussed the critical need to allow more input from all members of the community into health-related decisions as broadly as transportation planning and school lunch menus. In order to drive an equitable and responsive public health system, community voice must be at the center of all decisions.

 

ELIMINATE GAPS BETWEEN SERVICES

The greatest strength of the Greater Worcester region identified through this process is the abundance of high-quality social, health, and associated services in the area. One of the most frequently cited frustrations, however, was the difficulty in navigating between these services. For that reason, a “no wrong door” approach to services is needed, meaning that when an individual presents in one place for one service, that person should be seamlessly connected to a different needed service regardless of the scope of the agency’s services.

 

 

9 PRIORITY AREAS

RACISM & DISCRIMINATION

Improve population health by systematically eliminating institutional racism and the pathology of oppression and discrimination by promoting equitable access to, and use of, health promoting resources in the community, and significantly reducing the structural and environmental factors that contribute to health inequities.

 

SUBSTANCE USE

Create a regional community that prevents and reduces substance use disorder and its surrounding stigma for all populations.

 

ACCESS TO CARE

Create a well-coordinated, respectful, and culturally-responsive environment that encourages prevention of chronic disease, reduction of infant mortality, and access to quality comprehensive care for all.

 

MENTAL HEALTH

Create a well-coordinated, respectful, and culturally-responsive environment that encourages prevention of chronic disease, reduction of infant mortality, and access to quality comprehensive care for all.

 

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

Improve population health by providing all residents with opportunities to engage in meaningful work with living wages and healthy, safe, and family-friendly working conditions.

 

CULTURAL RESPONSIVENESS

Improve population health by providing all residents with opportunities to engage in meaningful work with living wages and healthy, safe, and family-friendly working conditions.

 

ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOOD

Ensure all people have equal access to healthful foods by building and sustaining communities that support health through investment in the growth, sale, and preparation of healthy foods.

 

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Improve health for those who live, work, learn and play in the region through safe, equitable access to opportunities for physical activity, with special emphasis on youth, vulnerable, and underserved populations.

 

SAFETY

Ensure that all residents regardless of age, race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, housing situation, family status, or religion will feel safe, secure, respected, and live a life free from violence.