The MGH Center for Community Health Improvement collaborates with community and hospital partners to build and sustain healthier communities, and to enhance the hospital's responsiveness to patients and community members from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
About the Center for Community Health Improvement
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. MGH is committed to creating healthy communities in the towns and neighborhoods it serves.
Achieving healthy communities requires a collaborative approach. The MGH Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) builds relationships and works with community partners to make measurable, sustainable improvement on some of the toughest health problems – like violence, obesity, and teen substance abuse.
A collaborative process
The process starts with assessing the needs of the community through a participatory approach, 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 in order 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. Finally, youth programs serve to generate interest in science and health to expand horizons and create educational and economic opportunities for the future.
CCHI carries out its work in Chelsea, Revere, and Charlestown, where MGH has maintained healthcare centers for more than 40 years. CCHI programs also work with Boston youth and special populations such as the elderly, homeless, immigrants, and refugees to improve their health status. For 15 years, CCHI has partnered with the communities it serves to assess needs and create more than 35 programs that:
- Reduce and prevent substance abuse
- 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
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 principals:
- 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: MGH 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
282 Revere Middle school students participated in the "Above the Influence" Drug Facts Contest. The Revere Fire Department administered Narcan 67 times to reverse overdoses from opiates.
During the annual Walk for Recovery in Revere, 300 Revere youth marched in support of individuals and families in their community. New funding means that 200 victims of violence willl be served each year for 5 years by a violence intervention "advocate" in the MGH Emergency Department.
- All Chelsea elementary school teachers have been trained to integrate physical activity into the classroom thoughout the school day. In Revere, 625 youth participated in the national Walk to School Day. The Charlestown coalition is working to secure transportation to grocery stores now that the community's only grocery store has closed.
- MGH Youth Programs served more than 465 youth. This effort was aided by 380 MGH volunteer mentors. In Charlestown, 200 middle school students completed Life Skills, an evidenced-based curriculum to promote health desicion-making.
- Patient navigation dramatically increased colon cancer and breast cancer screening rates. The colon cancer screening rate among Latinos at MGH Chelsea increased from 36 percent to 74 percent over the last five years. The breast cancer screening rate among Bosnian women at MGH Chelsea increased from 44 percent to 67 percent.
- There are more than 800 elders living in housing within close vicinity of MGH. Many of them are low-income and frail. Last year MGH Senior HealthWISE reached these elders with 2,752 encounters such as home visits, support groups, and contacts with their physicians. Through MGH Chelsea, high risk new mothers speaking Spanish, Portuguese, English, Somali, Swahili, French, Napali and Arabic received home visiting services. The Refugee Program welcomed newly arriving refugees from Bhutan, Eritrea, Iraq and Congo, and connected them with services in Chelsea.