east ocean view initiative
David Satcher, the 16th U.S. Surgeon General stated that “the health of the individual is inseparable from the health of the larger community.” The Bon Secours Healthy Communities Initiativefocuses on relationship building through which intervention that is based on trust and knowledge is implemented over time. This unique approach to building healthy communities stands in contrast to the more traditional, and often times ineffective method of assessing the health status of a community, developing a program to address that health deficit, and implementing the program within a 3 or 6 month window. The healthy Communities Initiative instead starts first, like any good physician, by getting to know the people we desire to assist. This is done through a long-term vision that allows us to become part of the community before attempting to solve predetermined difficulties within that community. This long-term commitment allows us to not only to understand the difficulties that are hindering the health and well-being of individuals, but to see them first hand, along with the underlying environmental issues that are fostering the difficulties. As part of the community we can address the concerns that are deemed most important to the community itself and prepare the groundwork that will foster and sustain community health instead of simply treating the symptom as determined by a simple health indicator. This approach allows the residents to take control of their own well-being on all levels, and expands the role of health care to include poverty, crime, violence, the environment, education, housing, safety, athletic opportunities for the youth, etc. Like David Satcher we are convinced, that by looking more broadly at the health of the community, we will have a direct and powerful impact on the health of each and every individual in that community.
East Ocean View has historically been one of the roughest neighborhoods in our community. With over 6,000 residents of which more than 25% are below the poverty level, over 20% are single parent households, and with a per-capita income of only $14,658 leaves families in extreme difficulty. In this neighborhood family violence, gangs, addictions, housing affordability, access to healthcare, and a lack of educational opportunities all affect the health of the individuals living there.
Our goal is to help build a self-sustaining healthier community through direct involvement, rallying the community, and partnering with others.
This initiative cannot succeed without the support and collaboration of many organizations and individuals. The needs for this type of initiative are varied and wide ranging. The use of volunteers from organizations and the community will help to stretch dollars (upgrading the local food pantry, for example where volunteer contractors will provide the labor, and local organizations will donate materials). This project will help the community to be better able to feed the hungry.
Organizations like the local Agency on Aging will bring their accessibility toolkit to determine the need for universally designed sidewalks, curbing, etc to assure that those residents that have mobility restrictions are not ‘disabled’ due to poor planning. This project will allow those with limited mobility to get to their doctors, the store etc.
A project working with Habitat for Humanity is being slated to assist renters to move into home-ownership through an apprentice renter program where a renter will receive counseling on budgeting, family life, and home ownership, with the goal of providing them with the education and training they need to be able to confidently move from the apprentice rental to the ownership of a habitat home. This project will help to increase the percentage of owner occupied homes by giving opportunity to the renters who currently reside in East Ocean View.
Providing support to local events like the July 4th picnic celebration, and the Thanksgiving program will provide opportunity for healthcare organizations to provide free health screenings in order to provide early detection and intervention of health risks, as well as steering individuals who are not currently seeing a primary care physician to get one. The local hospital will provide their caravan (a primary care physician office on wheels) to see those individuals who are unable to get to a physician office due to illness, or financial difficulties. This will help to raise the awareness of health concerns for the community at large while assisting individuals who require health care service but are unable to attain them elsewhere. In addition the healthcare providers will work with the local schools to develop an immunization clinic as well as Asthma Education programming for the staff.
Working with the City of Norfolk and the Civic League to expand the reach and effectiveness of the recreation center will help the community by giving the 14-20 year olds the opportunity to get off the streets in the evenings. In addition, upgrading the computer room in the recreation center will afford the children of East Ocean View an opportunity to computers and printers so that they can complete their homework.
Building into the community requires a broad reach and more time, people and resources than any one organization can provide. Collaboration and a maintained focus on making this community healthy through the development of a self-sustaining model is critical to its success.
There at least three unique aspects of this initiative:
- Making a long-term (10+ years) focused commitment to a particular neighborhood
- Starting with relationship development at the individual, civic league, faith-based, business, city, not-for-profit, and political levels.
- Coming along side others who are doing good in that community before initiating new programs and directives.
We are excited to be a part of the East Ocean View Neighborhood and we are looking forward to creating a self-sustaining healthier East Ocean View.