A coalition of community partners has received a $450,000 grant from The Duke Endowment to help improve health in Georgetown County.
The Tidelands Community Care Network Advisory Council, a group of public and private community organizations working collaboratively, is now one of 20 coalitions across the Carolinas participating in The Duke Endowment’s “Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas” initiative.
The program promotes behavior changes that address chronic issues such as unhealthy weight, diabetes and heart disease by increasing physical activity and nutrition. Approximately 20 organizations and private individuals are working together as part of the Tidelands Community Care Network Advisory Council to develop ways to engage residents in improving their health.
Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas is now active in 16 South Carolina counties. It began in early 2016 in North Carolina, and the Endowment has plans for further expansion.
Research shows that South Carolina ranks 42nd among all states when it comes to the overall health of its residents, earning poor rankings for its rates of obesity and physical inactivity. Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas recognizes that health and well-being are created and sustained not just through individual and clinical efforts, but through the cooperation and support of the extended local community.
“Where we live, where we go to school and work, how we spend our free time — even our ability to access fresh food and safely exercise near our homes — all contribute to our health and well-being,” said Linda Bonesteel, director of community health resources for Tidelands Health. “To truly improve health within our community, we have to expand how we think about what affects our health. It’s more than just what we eat and how many calories we burn. It’s how our community and its economy impact our health. If we can improve health for even a subset of our community, we will have learned a lot about how to increase quality of life for all people.”
Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas provides opportunities to bring together leaders from health systems, health departments and other health-promoting organizations. A crucial first step — and one that is funded by The Duke Endowment’s grant — is to strengthen the infrastructure of the local coalitions that are coordinating this effort so that they’re well-positioned to identify and implement interventions that work.
“The health challenges facing the Carolinas have been decades in the making,” said Lin Hollowell, director of health care at The Duke Endowment. “They cannot be effectively addressed overnight, though we’re starting to see the roots of progress take hold in the first set of Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas communities. The health challenges also cannot be solved by individuals and organizations working alone. Through Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas, communities can work together to confront their problems and make the most progress in achieving solutions.”
Representatives from participating coalitions will take part in a learning collaborative with opportunities to share information with each other as they develop best practices for organizing, planning and implementing evidence-based programs known to improve health.
“The coalitions selected by the Endowment are intentionally diverse and unique,” said Laura Cole of the South Carolina Hospital Association, which is providing expert assistance to each local coalition in the Palmetto State. “While there will be many opportunities for exchanging ideas, each community will receive support to pave its own path forward. The hope is that eventually the lessons of these coalitions can inform the work of others throughout the Carolinas.”