Collaborating with Communities to Create Positive Impact

The Mass General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) builds relationships and works with community partners to make measurable, sustainable improvement on some of our toughest health problems.

Good health begins with healthy communities that have access to healthy foods, safe places for children to play, and positive activities for teens. Communities must also have access to a health care system with programs to prevent, screen for, and treat conditions such as asthma, obesity, cancer, domestic violence, and substance abuse. to achieve these ends takes a collaborative approach.

Our Approach

The process starts with assessing the needs of the community through a participatory engagement, identifying priority health challenges, then determining which evidence-based approaches will most effectively meet the community’s needs.

Working together with the community, CCHI uses three approaches to address community health priorities.

  • "Environmental" strategies help to improve the conditions in communities, such as enacting a city ordinance banning smoking in public places to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Health care “navigation” and the support of community health workers increase access to health care and guide people through the health care system.
  • Youth programs serve to generate interest in science and health to expand horizons and create educational and economic opportunities for the future.

We have measurable outcomes included in each program description.

Our Communities and Populations

CCHI carries out its work in Chelsea, Revere and Charlestown, where Mass General has maintained health care centers for more than 40 years. CCHI programs also work with Boston youth and special populations such as the homeless, immigrants, and refugees to improve their health status. Since 1995, CCHI has partnered with the communities it serves to assess needs and to create 40 programs that:

  • Reduce and prevent substance use disorders
  • Intervene in the cycle of violence
  • Tackle the obesity epidemic by increasing access to healthy food and physical activity
  • Increase access to care for vulnerable populations such as immigrants and refugees, seniors, and homeless people
  • Prevent cancers through early detection and screening
  • Generate interest in science and health careers among youth

Our Principles

CCHI is committed to its values that foster collaboration, community-based approaches, long-term systems change, and improve access to underserved and vulnerable populations. CCHI’s work is guided by the following principles:

  • Commitment to the underserved and to reducing health care disparities
  • A broad definition of health, inclusive of social determinants
  • Building on community strengths and assets
  • Prevention, early intervention, and health promotion, as well as equal access to care
  • Mutual learning: Mass General and communities listen to, collaborate with and learn from each other
  • Sustainability through systematic changes
  • Evidence-based and culturally appropriate initiatives
  • Community-based participatory research evaluation

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