Imagine this, you go to your medical provider and your child gets a prescription to read. That’s exactly what’s happening in the Roanoke-Chowan area.
Ahoskie Comprehensive Care, Murfreesboro Primary Care, and Creswell Primary Care have just been celebrated as high-quality programs for Reach Out and Read (ROR). That means our providers and other medical professionals incorporate ROR's evidence-based model with a high degree of fidelity during regular pediatric checkups (birth - 5 years), by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and giving developmentally-appropriate books to children. They are essentially providing families with "prescriptions to read." The intervention serves as a tool for providers and gives an opportunity to build on teachable moments with parents that will benefit their children for a lifetime.
RCCHC literacy efforts, led by Student Wellness Center Director Catherine Parker, don't end there. Our clinics also have Little Free Libraries: a "take a book, return a book" free book exchange. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share. Our LFLs were built by a local Eagle Scout and painted by local artists in the style of their favorite children's books.
Additionally, this August marked the opening of the Story Book Trail, spearheaded by RCCHC interns, Lindsey Stallings, Dacia Peele and Zach Wise. The Story Book Trail runs along the P.A.W. Path, beginning at the entrance by Ahoskie Comprehensive Care and the ECU Dental School. Walkers can now enjoy stops with pages from children's storybooks posted, allowing families to follow the trail and read the story as they go. The book will change periodically, so you will always have something new to read!
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center (RCCHC) has received multiple Quality Improvement Awards (QIA) from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). These awards recognize the highest performing health centers nationwide, as well as those health centers that have made significant quality improvement gains from the previous year.
The QIA support HRSA’s strategic goal to improve access to quality health care and services, and supports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s goal of promoting a value-based payment system by improving the quality, breadth of services, modernization, efficiency, and overall value of primary health care delivered by health centers.
"America's health centers are essential to producing results on our actionable public health challenges, like HIV/AIDS and the opioid crisis, as well as to building a healthcare system that delivers better value and puts the patient at the center." said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Due to our high performance , RCCHC received $23,954 for being a Clinical Quality Improver; $5,000 from the Advancing Health Information Technology (HIT) for Quality award for health centers that utilized five HIT services and telehealth services to increase access to care and advance quality of care; and $5,000 from Patient Centered Medical Home (PMCH) Recognition for health centers with PCMH in one of more delivery sites.
“RCCHC providers and staff appreciate this federal acknowledgement of our quality improvement efforts.” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Claudia Richardson, “Every day we work hard to reduce barriers to our patients’ healthcare. This award will enable us to continue finding innovative solutions we know will work for our patients,”
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center announced today it has received a grant totaling more than $160,000 from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to further expand and develop our Integrated Behavioral Health and substance abuse treatment services.
HRSA awarded $200 million to more than 1200 health centers across the nation to increase access to high quality, integrated behavioral health services, like what can be found at RCCHC. This includes the prevention or treatment of mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder.
"Health centers and behavioral health providers are on the front lines of the fight against the opioid crisis and substance abuse, especially in rural communities," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
RCCHC is proud to be part of the fight, and is excited for the opportunity to expand the work we are currently doing to better serve our patients and community. We understand that addressing mental health needs may be the key for many with chronic diseases to living healthier lives overall. "If you can treat the anxiety or depression, you're going to have stabilization or improvement of the chronic disease," said RCCHC CEO, Kim Schwartz. Schwartz was recently quoted in an international article regarding mental health treatment in the United States called “Treating a Chronic Disease, Beginning with Mental Health”. She added, "Patients who are successfully treated for a mental illness begin to feel better. Then they take better care because they feel better about feeling better. It's a Mobius strip."
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center offers a wide variety of mental health services at its clinics in Ahoskie, Colerain, Creswell, and Murfressboro and Woodland (opening Fall 2019). From common mental health diagnoses such as Anxiety, Depression, ADD/ADHD, Bipolar, and PTSD to Substance Abuse, Opioid Addiction Treatment, and NARCAN/Naloxone training.
"It is essential to treat the whole person at RCCHC, and to help to take away the stigma attached to mental health," says Schwartz, "because it is ALL health - mental, physical, spiritual and social."
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center will host a free men’s health fair with information on men’s health issues like prostate cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, health screenings, and activities for the whole family. The event is open to the public on Monday, September 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Ahoskie Comprehensive Care, 120 Health Drive in Ahoskie. More information is available by calling the event coordinator Erin Storie at 252-209-0237.
Most people who don’t live or work with high schoolers probably don’t go out of their way to spend much time around them, but by doing that, we might be missing out on some of our community’s most productive and thoughtful residents.
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center’s (RCCHC) Hertford County Wellness Center (HCSWC) Director, Catherine Parker, is adamant that youth can be active participants in their community to guide positive change. “We want to create a community where young people have a voice and are invited to the table. Teenagers don’t normally have a platform to create community change, but when adults step back, they do amazing things.” says Parker.
The catalyst for much of the current youth led work began with the Youth Wellness Academy (YWA), a partnership between the Hertford County Student Wellness Center, the Hertford Health Maintenance Alliance and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation. It was created with the intent to let students pursue leadership opportunities, especially those who may not have otherwise had the chance to do so.
One such opportunity was the Photovoice Project, where YWA members were asked to examine community conditions and discuss how they are affected through photography. Photos taken by the students ranged from spoiled food, to empty storefronts, to decaying sidewalks, but also images of hope and opportunity. As a response to the Photovoice, youth services were identified as a priority among community partners for three years, and the need for safe and accessible places to exercise helped create the P.A.W. Path Walking Trail – a trail open to the public connecting Hertford County High, Bearfield Primary School, Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Service Learning Site, and town sidewalks. Youth Wellness Academy students also traveled to Raleigh to advocate for P.E. in schools, and organized “Destress for the Test”, an afternoon of relaxing activities to help students at Hertford County High School relieve stress before their final exams.
Students have also led an active role in the Farm to School to Healthcare program, a community partnership created to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables and safe spaces to be active in Hertford County. High school aged “Garden Stewards” dedicate large amounts of their time and energy over the summer and school year to maintain school gardens located at Hertford County High, Hertford County Early College, C.S. Brown H.S. STEM, Bearfield Primary, and Riverview Elementary, as well as Ahoskie Community Gardens where produce is grown to be sold at youth led farmers markets. At the markets, students take care of everything from manning the cash register, to giving out samples of healthy dishes they have prepared, to managing promotional social media accounts. Volunteers from the program also assist with its annual “Farm to Table Dinner”, whose guest speakers last year included NC first Lady Kristin Cooper and former NFL player Jason Brown, now the owner of First Fruits Farm.
The Hertford County Student Wellness Center, in partnership with Hertford County Cooperative Extension were also lucky enough to have three interns this year, Dacia Peele, Lindsey Stallings and Zach Wise. Among their accomplishments includes leading the charge on the “StoryBook Trail” where walkers can read pages of a storybook as they follow along the P.A.W. Path., along with implementing a garden art project at Bearfield Primary School. Parker states that she’s grateful not only for their hard work, but also their professionalism, and the valuable advice and input they have offered about programs the in the county.
“As adults, we forget what it’s like to be young and we tend to have a nasty habit of thinking ‘kids these days are so [negative opinion]’ without really involving them in the conversation,” says Parker, “I challenge everyone to engage with our youth. They have amazing ideas –and the option to leave. But we want them to know Hertford County is their home, and that they can make home what they want it to be. There must be a seat at our table for young people or they will find another table.”