Community Health Improvement Week

June 9, 2011

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This week, we launched the inaugural Community Health Improvement Week, designed to focus our time and effort to provide meaningful and needed education and services for the children and families of greater Houston and abroad.

Community Health Improvement Week is a national awareness event designed to:

  • Raise awareness and increase understanding of the vital role of community health improvement strategies, as complementary to individual medical care and to broader public health approaches.
  • Demonstrate the value and impact of an organization's community health initiatives, both within the organization and to a wide range of community stakeholders.
  • Celebrate community health professionals in a variety of roles (from Community Health Outreach Workers to Vice Presidents of Community Health or Community Benefit) and settings, including hospitals, community health centers, public health agencies, healthy communities coalitions and more.

What is community health?

“The term ‘community health’ refers to the health status of a defined group of people, or community, and the actions and conditions that protect and improve the health of the community.”  Community health activities generally include:

  • Health promotion (educational, social, and environmental supports for groups or individuals to make changes in behavior)
  • Health protection (the health and safety of the environment, including: avoiding unintentional injuries; ensuring air, water and food safety; ensuring availability of healthy foods; etc.)
  • Health services (with an emphasis on preventive and primary medical care, public health services, and the care and management of chronic diseases).

Why is community health important?

Community health is important first and foremost because health is largely a product of our everyday physical and social environment, and of our behaviors. Thus, supporting strong health through community interventions, programs and policies is a smart way to have a positive impact. It is complementary to individual medical care.

It has been demonstrated that many of the leading causes of death are “rooted in behavioral choices. [And] behavioral change is motivated not by knowledge alone, but also by a supportive social environment and the availability of facilitative services.”

It has been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 70 percent of premature deaths in the U.S. are related to health behaviors and the community environment, whereas only 10 percent are due to inadequate access to medical care. Genetics accounts for the remaining 20 percent.

In addition, community health programs can reduce suffering and save money by helping to prevent health problems and better manage chronic conditions. The Trust for America’s Health estimates a more than $5.00 return on investment after 5 years on every dollar spent on prevention.

Community Benefit

The community benefit program at Texas Children's Hospital comprises a variety of services and initiatives. Learn more by reading the 2009 Community Benefit Report.

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