Online Program

Making improvements in social and economic factors leads to improved health in low-income communities

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

David Weed, Psy.D., Partners for a Healthier Community Inc., Fall River, MA
Improvements in social and economic factors, as well as the physical environment, are reshaping the City of Fall River, Massachusetts, a predominantly low-income community, into a healthier city. Partners for a Healthier Community, Inc., a coalition composed of residents and public and private organizations, used multiple data sources that describe the population, education, health status and economic demographics of the City, to formulate plans to address: 1) Safety and Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Control, 2) Recreation & Fitness, 3) Food Supply and Nutrition, 4) Educational, Worksite and Medical Practices, and 5) Physical Environment and Advocacy. Over a five-year period of time, task forces focused on substance abuse, youth violence and community health oversaw the implementation and monitoring of strategies designed to reduce risk and promote positive behaviors. Using a variety of programmatic and policy changes, the overall smoking rate was reduced by 14% and the rate of youth violence by 37%. Substantial improvements were also made in school nutrition and the City's food supply, and opportunities for physical activity were increased both through low-cost programs and structural changes in the environment. Youth spearheaded a successful effort to ban tobacco products from all City pharmacies, and access to healthcare was substantially improved through the construction of a state-of-the-art, multi-vendor health care center in the heart of the City's poorest neighborhood. Construction will begin in the summer of 2013 on a walking and bicycle rail path highlighting a once abandoned river that flows through the center of the City.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Program planning
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the characteristics of a healthy community and how they influence health improvement. Describe the effective organization of community sectors capable of assessing community needs and assets and defining measurable goals for improvements through policy, systems and environment changes. Identify one strategy to advance health improvement in the attendee’s home community.

Keyword(s): Community Capacity, Community Health Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the director of a large public health initiative for the City of Fall River since 2003. In that role, I research and write grants, direct a staff of six, and represent the program to the community and to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. I have authored a number of published articles dealing with community health and coalition building.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.