Preventing Disease, Promoting Health

Community Health Programs Soar

Each community around the nation is unique in every way, with differing needs, goals, and cultures. When it comes to the health of an area, there are varying issues woven into the fabric of the community that need to be served – even bordering counties, such as Brevard and Orange, where obesity levels differ by close to 3 percent.

Community health programs exist to serve the needs of those within its borders regardless of economic status. These programs go beyond caring for the sick, and strive to focus on wellness and prevention to help residents adopt a healthier lifestyle and prevent chronic disease. In Fiscal Year 2013, Health First’s commitment to the health of Brevard County was reflected in $111,145,450 in total support, including charity and uncompensated care.


Determining Community Needs

The Affordable Care Act mandates that all not-for-profit health care organizations, like Health First, conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years to determine a community’s unique needs. The current assessment was conducted in the fall of 2012 and found that the top issues in Brevard County include adults without health insurance, a primary care physician/provider, or a regular dentist; adults with cerebrovascular disease and cardiovascular disease; adults and children who are overweight or obese; and those who have a poor diet or lack of physical activity.

As executive vice president and chief strategy officer, Drew Rector is responsible for the overall strategic direction of Health First. “The Community Health Needs Assessment assists us in identifying where resources are needed most in the community and enables us to partner with like-minded organizations and agencies for the betterment of the health of our community,” he said.


A Focus on Prevention and Wellness

Health First’s current community health offerings range from programs to assist residents who desire to quit smoking to weight management programs, which correlate with the findings in the Community Health Needs Assessment.  A sampling includes the “BeFit” program for low-income adults which promotes  healthy lifestyles and maintaining a healthy weight, and the “Family BeFit” program, which helps children and families focus on good nutrition and physical fitness. The “Quit Smoking Now” program was put in place for current smokers who are diagnosed with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. Health First has also created the Medicaid OutReach Education (MORE) program in an effort to qualify residents for Medicaid or other health insurance coverage.

“At Health First, you will be seeing more of a focus on prevention and wellness. Our plan, Health First 2020, outlines this commitment clearly,” said Rector. “Our charge for Brevard is lowering the cost of health care and improving the quality and experience for our customers.”

By the year 2020, Health First intends to perform consistently in the top 10 percent nationally in three areas that are principle measures of key outcomes in health care: quality/no harm, stewardship and customer experience.

“A healthy workforce prospers from fewer days missed from work, and ultimately, better performance. This leads to a healthier, more productive environment, which benefits everyone in the community and attracts new businesses,” said Rector.


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