The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

Health coalitions promote physical and mental wellness in our communities

Health coalitions promote physical and mental wellness in our communities

"Nothing about me, without me" could be the motto of the five county health coalitions supported by WellSpan. These coalitions work across South Central Pennsylvania to promote physical and mental health in their communities. 

Coined by a national patient care advocate about 25 years ago, the phrase means that health decisions should be made collaboratively with the people those decisions will impact. 

"That is the common theme of our coalitions," says Ann Kunkel, WellSpan vice president of community health and engagement. "It means that we don't make decisions about how to improve health without asking those living and working in the community." 

WellSpan now is asking what is important and needed in its communities by conducting a survey designed for residents of the five counties where it operates, asking them about their physical and mental health, financial and housing security, access to care, and other issues related to their health. 

To participate in the survey, being done in partnership with the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College, go here. 

The results of the survey will be used by WellSpan to develop its WellSpan Community Health Improvement Plan and guide the work of coalitions, which include Healthy Adams County, Healthy Franklin County, the Healthy York County Coalition, the Northern Lancaster Hub, and the Community Health Council of Lebanon County. 

The coalitions lead community discussions about the plan's priorities, and the next steps in addressing them. 

The most recent WellSpan Community Health Improvement Plan identified three overall priorities, including care for all that ensures equitable access and quality of care by reducing disparities and barriers to care; behavioral health and lifelong wellness that makes it easier for people to recognize and get support for mental health issues; and healthy communities and social determinants of health that develops strategies to address social and economic issues that impact health. 

Here is just a sampling of the coalitions' work, and how it meets their community's needs: 

  • Healthy Adams County offers Fruit and Vegetable Bucks, discounts on produce available to low-income households, and discounted produce offered through an area farm market program, in a county where almost 8 percent of the population receives food assistance and only 4 percent eat three daily servings of vegetables. 
  • Healthy Franklin County hosts Winter STREAK, a free, virtual 12-week program that promotes exercise, healthy eating and stress reduction in a county where just 20 percent of residents exercise for 30 minutes five days a week. 
  • The Community Health Council of Lebanon County offers programs that prevent or reduce vaping in kids and teens, in a county where almost half of sixth- to 12th-graders said they had vaped nicotine in the past year. 
  • During the isolating, stressful days of the pandemic, the Northern Lancaster Hub opened the Talk Tank, a private booth where someone can quickly connect to a mental health professional, in a county where 21 percent of the population has a depressive disorder and 24 percent has an anxiety disorder. 
  • Working with more than 25 community partners, Healthy York County Coalition offered mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics to homeless shelters and affordable housing communities, to reach residents with transportation challenges or limited access to vaccine services, a particularly vulnerable population during the pandemic. 

To learn more about WellSpan's health coalitions, go here.