One thing we are doing differently at Piedmont Health Services these days is community outreach. We have always done that but we’re doing a little more of it.
At last count, there were 20 events in 2016 for Piedmont Health employees to go out and provide health information, screenings and tell people about the services that Piedmont Health offers including SeniorCare.
It’s all part of our theme for 2016, “getting back to our roots.” Health care is increasingly complicated, and over time we have become more and more focused on taking care of the business side of Piedmont Health.
That has been a necessity, and it’s not only us. Look at the way the media covers the health-care industry these days – you’re more likely to see articles about health care on the business pages than any other place in the newspaper. Our bottom line is increasingly affected by government actions as well as upheaval within the health-care industry.
Our doctors, nurses and staff got into this field to care for people, not to worry about financial matters. For us, caring for people is the heart of the matter.
But we can’t only pay attention to our hearts, because that doesn’t pay the bills. On the other hand, we can’t only pay attention to paying bills, because that doesn’t give us the sense of meaning and fulfillment that brought us to community health centers.
Clearly, we have to do both, but in 2016 we are trying hard to put the “community” back into community health centers. What we really want to do is not just be a doctor’s office but be a good neighbor in terms of working with everyone in the community to make sure that they’re as healthy as possible.
At Piedmont Health, we have long strived to provide high-quality, accessible care at our centers, which now number 10 throughout central North Carolina. But when you go out into the community, you add a different dimension to health care.
As welcoming as we are to all patients who come into our centers, when they do come in they usually already are experiencing some sort of health issue. But when we go out into the community, we are more likely to intervene early before a health problem develops or gets serious, and we can put more emphasis on preventive care and health education rather than treating illness.
Another benefit of community outreach is that it helps us keep our finger on the pulse of the community; to sense trends in health a little sooner.
We are being more intentional about our community outreach largely because I moved my former assistant, Gloria Brown, to a new position of community outreach coordinator. She already was doing a lot of outreach as my assistant; I just decided that she should do it full time. Her leadership has allowed us to better coordinate community outreach, and that has allowed us to do more if it.
Already this year, Piedmont has sponsored Dental Health Day, in which we provided free dental screenings for kids; we set up tables at a charity basketball game and provided free health screenings; and we cosponsored Unity in the Community Day, a day of food, fun, fellowship and free health screenings.
All of this is in addition to the other forms of community outreach that we continue to do, for instance partnerships with schools, Senior Centers, town & county governments, veterans resource fairs & a stand down and with the faith community and the local police.
A lot of the outreach requires the help of volunteers from our staff. It is not easy for staff to give up their personal time after hours for these efforts, but it is a sign of their dedication that we are able to find enough volunteers for the events. The volunteers are doing something that we all care about in the community.