Case Study: Healthy Communities Movement
Loma Linda University Health: Engaging Great Partners by Being a Great Partner
Inland Empire residents have among the worst health outcomes of all Californians. In 2011 San Bernardino County (SBC) and Riverside were among the worst for clinical care, and second worst for physical environment among Californian counties. The overall health factors rank of SBC was 50th, with Riverside 42nd out of 56 counties. A highly diverse population is seriously and disproportionately afflicted by diseases related to obesity that prove especially challenging to mitigate. Language and cultural barriers abound, especially among recent immigrant Latinos, a major population group. Resources are limited and many gaps in services exist.
The living environment obviously affects residents of the Inland Empire, including their quality of life, years of healthy life lived, and health disparities. To change the built environment, address social determinants, and improve health status is difficult; it takes an entire community. With a sense of urgency about growing chronic disease it must include an ongoing commitment from the health sector.
Loma Linda University Heath (LLUH) engaged communities in a vision for a healthier future through the Health Communities Movement. Going well beyond merely improving programs, behaviors, or attitudes, it is a paradigm shift that involves a common passion for creating community ‘where we all have a purpose and a sense of belonging.’ With coalitions of community partners, it seeks to address social determinants of health, improved access of health services, increased health system readiness, and an enhanced built environment. Municipal governments are primary partners, but universities, school districts, health care providers, nonprofit organizations, and the business sector all play critical roles. Beginning with 3 communities in 2006, in 2012 it included 22 of 24 county communities and moved into two contiguous counties.
Since 2010, many SBC health indicators have improved, perhaps influenced by the comprehensive multi-sectoral initiative .Social and economic factors are still unchanged but a full county has galvanized around common metrics for improving health behaviors and outcomes.
Health Factors 45 41
Health Behaviors 48 45
Clinical Care 54 50
Physical & Social Factors 37 39
Physical Environment 54 55