The American Hospital Association recently celebrated Community Health Improvement Week on June 12th-18th. This yearly event is a time to honor the people working in partnership to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Members of the Kentucky REC team are participating in the UK HealthCare Healthy Kentucky Behavioral Health Community of Practice, listed below as part of the Healthy Kentucky Initiative. We are proud of this important work in helping primary and specialty practices gain the tools and resources to address the behavioral health needs of their patients. You may access these resources here.

As one university, UK HealthCare is committed to advancing Kentucky by transforming the health and wellness of communities across the Commonwealth. UK HealthCare is working not only to provide access to care close to home but to address wellness and prevention outside our walls to help people in our communities live their healthiest lives. The Healthy Kentucky Initiative was created to support the 5th Objective of our strategic plan: Create a Healthier Kentucky. They work collaboratively across our health system, campus and community to advance wellness, health education and awareness focusing on those community members most at risk for poor health outcomes.

“Actively working to create a culture of health is fundamental to community health and wellness. The Healthy Kentucky Initiative has worked closely with the Behavioral Health Leadership team to provide accessible mental health resources. These efforts provide a clear reminder that mental health is health and is essential to community well-being.” said Dr. Seth Himelhoch, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry.

UK HealthCare is not alone in this vision. Recently, health systems nationwide have focused on expanding wellness and prevention efforts and improving health equity. The Healthy Kentucky Initiative team partners closely with Dr. Tukea Talbert, Chief Diversity Officer and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to promote health equity. Overwhelmingly, studies find that non-medical factors (social, behavioral & environmental determinants) play a significant role in overall health. UK HealthCare cares about the whole person and is working to help our friends and neighbors lead the best and healthiest life possible.

Community Health Improvement Programming – New Initiatives Include:

  • Community Commitment microsite: Created to share the great work our health system is doing to create a healthier Kentucky
  • Online Q.P.R (Question, Persuade, Refer) training: Free, self-paced online suicide prevention training
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: National and state marketing and messaging alignment
  • Behavioral Health Community of Practice: A virtual collaborative focused on helping primary care providers address low acuity mental health concerns; maintain recordings and resources on both UK HealthCare and Kentucky REC websites; attendees were offered Mental Health First Aid training at no cost
  • Youth Mental Health Modules: We are working to launch school-based and athletic modules focused on providing resources to teachers and administrators
  • Be a Diabetes A.C.E. Day: A one-day “boot-camp” for diabetes lifestyle management
  • The Lung Cancer Screening Collaborative Series: This webinar series focuses on the equitable implementation of lung cancer screening in our communities
  • Walk with a Doc: A free walking series available to the community
  • Cooking Videos: cooking videos focused on recipes for specific disease states
  • Be Healthy Bash: A free community wellness fun day focused on increasing uptake of healthy behaviors
  • Diabetes Cooking Classes: Cooking classes were offered free of charge to our patients with diabetes

“We’re leveraging the assets of this great university to help enhance our common goals. We can use those assets to really impact these very tough, challenging problems in a way that a lot of organizations can’t,” said Trudi Matthews, Senior Director of Quality and Value Strategy and Director of the Healthy Kentucky Initiative.

The Healthy Kentucky Initiative works together with campus and community partners to elevate and amplify the message of wellness and strategically implement new programs to address health for the community at large. Some of their partners include:

  • UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
  • Food as Health Alliance
  • The Food Connection at the University of Kentucky
  • UK Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion
  • UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute
  • UK HealthCare Community & Retail Pharmacy Services
  • UK Integrative Medicine & Health
  • UK Behavioral Health Leadership
  • UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center
  • Kentucky Children’s Hospital
  • UK Markey Cancer Center, QUILS (Quality Implementation Lung Cancer Screening) and KY Leads
  • UK Human Resources
  • UK College of Medicine
  • UK Student Success
  • Kentucky Regional Extension Center
  • Lexington Farmers’ Market
  • Bluegrass Lions Diabetes Project
  • FoodChain
  • The Nest
  • The Fatherhood Initiative

Dr. Kristen Stakelin, Medical Director for the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center says, “I have had the Be Healthy Bash, the Be a Diabetes A.C.E. Day, and the cooking classes for diabetes on my wish list for several years – patient education is a passion of mine. There are often so many barriers that our patients face to receive the quality healthcare and education they need. However, we hadn’t been able to find the support to launch any of these community programs until we were able to partner with the Healthy Kentucky Initiative. All of a sudden, we had a team of people helping us work on making these events a reality. It was fantastic to see our network across UK Healthcare and the local community instantly broaden with the common goal of improving the health of people across the Commonwealth. I hope to continue partnering with the Healthy Kentucky Initiative in the future to improve the lives of those we serve. This has been a fantastic opportunity.”

Original article by Lori Maddux, Coordinator, Healthy Kentucky Iniative, published in UKNOW

Do you have questions on how to meet the needs of your patient population and improve the quality of healthcare? Contact us at Kentucky REC with your questions. Our team of experts is here to help: 859-323-3090.