CON Faculty: Mary Jo Baisch
Award Amount: $448,961
Community Partners: COA Youth and Family Centers; Columbia St. Mary's; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing (Professor Mary Jo Baisch)
MCW Academic Partners: James Sanders, MD, MPH--Family and Community Medicine
RHI is a community health improvement (CHIP) effort that provides health information and facilitates health care access through neighborhood partnerships in a unique Community Based Participatory Action (CBPA) approach. Specifically, RHI works to address four health priorities that were derived from a community health survey. Riverwest residents indicate that their four main health concerns are Access to Health Care, Nutrition and Food Security, Mental Health, and Neighborhood Safety. To date, RHI has made substantial inroads in bringing the community together around these topical health issues.
RHI relies on input from program partners and neighborhood residents in setting health priorities, but also in strategy development. This is the heart of RHI's unique CBPA CHIP. The overall strategy is to match community needs with local resources; taking advantage of the many excellent health services and community agencies that exist right in the neighborhood. RHI acts as a facilitator and activator for neighborhood health development.
A significant means for meeting RHI objectives has been through the development of community partnerships. These partnerships have evolved throughout the first four years of RHI to create a network of engaged and motivated individuals and agencies that are providers (and sometimes recipients) of services, consultation and referrals. The input from RHI partners is key to setting goals, determining interventions, and assessing the success of RHI as the project continues to grow.
In 2005, RHI undertook the Riverwest Community Health Assessment Survey which helped highlight the four priority areas and their nuanced underpinnings. For RHI Phase II the same survey would be re-done along with pre- and post-test surveys around educational activities, and RHI partner interviews using network analysis methods. Lastly, nursing consultation and referrals will be tracked via UWM College of Nursing software for clinical applications.
The Riverwest Health Initiative has continued, proven ability to model sustainable and impactful community intervention. Thus far, RHI has built the HWPP Principles of Stewardship into its partnership network. As a demonstration of adherence to these principles, with the help of HWPP funding, RHI partners work together to integrate health education and other health programming into their existing services; leveraging each other's work and resources. This will undoubtedly continue as the partners in the initiative consult with each other and collaborate to expand their capacity for health improvement. RHI partners are accountable to each other and to the community through the CBPA process.
RHI staff will disseminate project results locally through the CBPA process itself, gatherings of neighborhood change agents, formal didactic sessions with local health care providers, meetings with various community and political leaders, through the Riverwest Neighborhood Association meetings and via the RHI website. Medical residents and other students in the health professions will be involved in RHI programs learning principles of community capacity building, CHIP, cultural sensitivity/competence and CBPA. Nationally, RHI staff plans to present papers or posters at national annual conferences and any other opportunities to share their work locally, regionally, and nationally.