By Deneece Ferrales
I am pleased to announce that the Access to Healthcare Working Group 2.0 (A2HC) was selected to be a part of the Episcopal Health Foundation’s inaugural Peer Learning Network cohort. Three members of the A2HC Steering Committee — Heather Travers with McLennan County Indigent Health, Cindy Murphy with Waco/ McLennan County Public Health District, and Kenneth McNeil with Baylor Scott & White Health, along with myself as convenor — will be closely involved throughout the initiative, however, anyone who participates in the A2HC Working Group is welcome to participate in any of the meetings or training.
The cohort is part of EHF’s Collaborating for Healthy Communities Initiative. The initiative “aims to strengthen existing health-focused coalitions and collaborative efforts by improving their effectiveness, leadership, and sustained ability to take action to improve health,” says EHF’s website.
EHF partners with Georgia Health Policy Center, which is a part of Georgia State University, to offer mentorship, training, and technical assistance to six coalitions in Texas. The goal is to strengthen and deepen multi-sector health collaborations and offer these collaborations realistic tips for improvement and advancing their initiatives.
Health collaboratives from the 53 counties that EHF serves applied to be a part of the network. After evaluating the applications, EHF interviewed 17 of the collaboratives. Out of those 17 interviews, six were invited to be part of the Peer Learning Network.
As part of the network A2HC will be assigned a coach from GHPC. The coach will attend collaborative meetings and steering committee meetings, as well as meeting with collaborative members to discuss ways that discussions, meetings, and the work can be more successful. All members of the collaborative will be offered the opportunity to attend webinars and other training offered by both EHF and GHPC.
EHF hopes to assist in building healthy communities by strengthening them in their catchment by empowering communities to address health needs through local collaboratives. “From the beginning, EHF has worked to be a philanthropic resource for advancing collaborative efforts to improve community health. It’s part of EHF’s goal to activate communities by helping them take charge of their own health and build connections that transcend difference,” the website states.
EHF has exhibited their goal through funding several collaborative projects in Waco, and EHF continues work toward those efforts through this new initiative.
A2HC is excited to have been included in the Peer Learning Network. Members participating in the process will meet individually with knowledgeable coaches so that factors specific to our community can be considered with the goal of coming up with a solution that fits our community, rather than a “one size fits all” solution. This will help A2HC collaborate more effectively and efficiently. Our hope is that more efficient and effective collaboration among health organizations will lead to a healthier community.
Deneece Ferrales, Ph.D., is director of health initiatives for Prosper Waco.