Vidant Health’s mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina stretches beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics here in the East.
With recent Community Health events across the 29 counties we serve, Vidant is delivering health care in unique ways. Recently, Vidant partnered with local leaders and community groups to host these events in Grantsboro in Pamlico County and Farmville in Pitt County.
Community members had the opportunity to get health screenings, receive health coaching, learn about providers and health care options near them and even receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Cheryl Willoughby, project coordinator for Systems & Procedures at Vidant, plays a key role in organizing these events. She said it is crucial to bring health care to the people of eastern North Carolina because of Vidant’s unique rural positioning.
“Access to health care is a huge issue for a lot of the people that we serve,” Willoughby said. “So when we do these community events, that barrier is easily broken when we meet people where they are. That’s the exciting piece for me.”
Pamlico County Health Event
Vidant hosted a Pamlico County Community Health event on Aug. 27 at Pamlico County Community College with great support from many local leaders and organizations. Pamlico County government, the Pamlico County Health Department and Pamlico County Community College all played a vital role in making the event possible.
Vidant Beaufort Hospital team members came out to the event to administer health screenings to community members, including body mass index measurements, blood pressure readings and blood sugar checks. Team members were also on hand to educate the community on colorectal cancer, diabetes and stroke.
Jennifer Lewis, community health improvement coordinator for Vidant Beaufort Hospital, said screenings and wellness checks events like these are crucial to making sure community members are staying on top of their health. She said that people will often go through everyday life feeling completely healthy while chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes go unchecked.
“We want to help identify some of those risk factors and maybe here we can share something with an individual that will get their attention,” Lewis said. “Hopefully we can get them in to see a physician and maybe make some changes in their diet, in their physical activity and if they need to get medication, that too.”
Dr. John Callahan from Vidant Family Medicine – Aurora was on hand to discuss any concerns with community members and to discuss COVID-19 vaccines with those interested. About 20 COVID-19 first doses were distributed to community members at the event.
The EastCare team also showed support for the Pamlico County event by showcasing a helicopter on the main road leading to the event and the Eastern Carolina Health Care Preparedness Coalition had a medical emergency bus and mobile field hospital out on display for the event as well.
Farmville Community Health Event
The following weekend, Vidant team members and community groups showed up again to bring health care directly to the communities we serve at the Farmville Public Library. Many of the same screenings and opportunities available at the Pamlico County event were brought to Farmville as well.
KaSheta Jackson, nurse executive fellow at Vidant, said the community partnerships Vidant has built and are working to strengthen are key to creating trust with the whole community. She said having those trusting relationships with community groups trickles down to individuals within communities and ultimately leads to better health for everyone.
“We are making sure that we are connecting with the community,” Jackson said. “We are here with CAREE, which is a community group. They’re doing our vaccines with the Pitt County Health Department. The local library, they’ve offered up the space. Cheryl (Willoughby) worked with a lot of local agencies here so that they would support it. We work with a lot of communities here because we don’t want to just come in, we want to be a part of how we improve health care in these comminutes.”
Along with health screenings and awareness campaigns at the event, behavioral health team members were on hand to provide support and share information. Vidant’s Talent Acquisition team also joined each of the events to make connections with community members seeking employment with the health system.
Jackson said the Community Health events are important to bringing health care to people and hopes that positive responses and results continue to come out of these opportunities.
“We are following the model of doing health care on the outside to make health care better on the inside,” Jackson said. “We’re working to address the social determinants of health, offering employment, trying to take care of the need for vaccines, taking health care into communities versus having people come to us – we’re taking services to those that need them.”
Where will we be next?
Vidant’s next Community Health event will be on Aug. 21 in Bethel at the Field of Dreams – additional information can be found on the Events page of VidantHealth.com.