COLLABORATIVE BEGINS TO TAKE FORM TO FOSTER LASTING HEALTH
In the fall, an unprecedented collaborative got down to the business of organizing itself and beginning to outline its work plan to advance health and wellness in all San Diego communities.
The group is called the San Diego Accountable Communities for Health (SDACH), part of a larger, statewide initiative. It’s made up of more than 100 partner organizations from a wide variety of fields – from healthcare, public, nonprofit, academia, faith, criminal justice, among others.
Be There San Diego has convened them to work together to create strategies to tackle the social conditions that negatively affect health in the community, such as poverty or a lack of access to healthy food, and to develop a long-term, sustainable plan to promote wellness.
The idea is that by bringing a diverse group of committed, experienced leaders together and fostering innovative thinking, barriers to good health will be erased, paving the way to a community’s wellness.
The SDACH is governed by a Stewardship Group, which will provide strategic guidance, supervise operations and review recommendations from three working groups: Sustainability and Wellness Fund, Data and Metrics and Collective Action.
It’s co-chaired by John Ohanian, president and CEO of 2-1-1 San Diego, and Kitty Bailey, executive director of Be There San Diego. Its 34 members are a diverse group of influential leaders of private, public, healthcare and non-profit organizations who have demonstrated a passion for working collaborately to improve the quality of life in local communities.
The Stewardship Group decided to begin its work by focusing on ideal cardiovascular health throughout a person’s lifespan through prevention, education, and treatment. That focus was chosen because virtually everyone is affected by cardiovascular disease; a framework already exists to promote cardiovascular health that takes into account socials determinants of health such as race, poverty and unsafe neighborhoods; and there is robust research that shows a strong return on investment in efforts to prevent heart disease.
The diversity of expertise, experience and philosophies brought together by the SDACH “is amazing,” said Supervising Probation Officer Fernando Uribe, one of the members of the Stewardship Group.
Uribe has worked for the county’s Probation Department for more than 20 years. He plans to bring back to the clients he serves information and resources to help the adults and juveniles improve their health or prevent disease in the first place.
He appreciates the fact that a range of influential leaders, from large organizations to grassroots ones, are working together to achieve a common goal: To promote health and wellness.
“If you have individuals who are disconnected from the community, despite their best intentions, you may not be able to reach the people you need to,” he said, “especially in the underserved community.”
He likes the collaborative’s focus in action.
“We can sit over coffee and solve the world’s problems,” he said. “But if there isn’t a passion to put all the planning into action, it’s just planning. We’re taking steps to put our plans into operation. That’s impressive.”
After an initial meeting in October, the Stewardship Group is to meet every other month with additional specific workgroups meeting more often.
The Sustainability and Wellness Fund Workgroup is developing a funding strategy to create a Wellness Fund. The fund would be used to invest in interventions and special projects to improve community health and wellness; and to sustain the SDACH’s work.
In its initial meeting Nov. 29, the work group began to explore funding models and potential funding sources.
A Data & Metrics Workgroup has been convened to develop data strategies to support SDACH activities, to monitor and share metrics to evaluate effectiveness and communicate results.
At its initial meeting on Nov. 28, the group discussed best practices to accomplish those goals, particularly in projects involving cardiovascular health across the lifespan. Group members were asked to consider what factors to measure, including ones such as mental health, stress, depression and community trauma.
Finally, a Collective Action Workgroup will be created to focus on a comprehensive portfolio of interventions for SDACH and its partner communities. Its members are to determine, prioritize and document criteria for these interventions, and to make sure their development and selection is objective. The group is to begin monthly meetings in January.