Hospital task force forms plan for action Health board oversees project, provides forum to serve community needs

June 26, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

In the midst of increasing medical costs and a growing emphasis on preventive health care, Northwest Hospital Center has formed an innovative task force aimed at improving the well-being of the community it serves.

The Randallstown hospital's new community health board is made up of health officials and professionals, Baltimore County officials, residents and area business owners. It resulted from a task force organized last year by the Northwest Hospital System Board to address health issues.

"We brought in people from the community and tried to determine what were some of the basic health needs," said Wayne A. Horrell, vice president of marketing and planning for the hospital and a health board member. "There was a desire on our part to really learn what was going on in the community."

The hospital serves the northwest area of Baltimore County and parts of Carroll County. Horrell said the task force formulated an action plan with goals that included intensifying health screenings and education programs, and implementing programs for the area's elderly and youth.

"The board oversees the plan and provides a good forum in which to discuss community health problems," said Horrell. "We get a terrific amount of information from each other."

Gail Heiss, director of the hospital's community services, said the effort has led to programs such as "Adopt a School," in which a nurse visits Winfield Elementary School once a week to supplement its health education classes.

"The emphasis on youth and family issues has been one of our newer targets, and it has met with much success," Heiss said.

Steve Chandler, chairman of the health board and a vice president of the Northwest Hospital Center Foundation, said the group of 34 volunteers is dedicated to concentrating on health issues before they become health problems. Hospitals increasingly are becoming more dependent on community input, he said.

Dr. Bernetha George, a retired physician in Randallstown and chairwoman for the health committee of the county branch of the NAACP, said the hospital has increased its awareness of changing demographics and problems relating to the area's growing African-American population.

According to census information, three-fifths of the county's African-American population lived in the northwest area in 1990.

"A hospital has to be sensitive to the community it serves," George said. "Hospitals must begin prevention efforts to control the need for treatment in the future."

Pub Date: 6/26/96

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