The Role of Healthcare Workers in Supporting Communities Through Public Health Initiatives

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Healthcare workers are more than the sum of their responsibilities. Yes, they work with sick people—usually reactively, when they are already in bad health. But do hospitals and the people who work in them also have a responsibility to provide proactive care to their community? 

Public health initiatives can provide valuable information, improve preventative care, and reduce the risks of bad healthcare outcomes. It can also have benefits for the hospital system itself. Most healthcare facilities are overworked and understaffed. Nipping preventable diseases in the bud can go a long way toward alleviating that problem.

In this article, we take a look at how healthcare workers can support communities through public health initiatives. 

What is a Public Health Initiative?

A public health initiative can be as simple as informing the community of their options, and as complicated as coming up with bespoke solutions for their needs. At its core, the proposition is simple: Public health initiatives require healthcare workers to proactively engage with their communities’ needs. 

They won’t wait for the problem to show up at the emergency room. They will face it head-on, and improve people’s health in the bargain. 

How Can Healthcare Workers Help with Community Health Initiatives?

It all starts with understanding what the community needs. There are general health advisements, and these can be important. Tick and mosquito awareness in the summer. Flu vaccine awareness in the winter. That said, for healthcare workers to be true assets to their community in the context of preventative care, they need to have a more nuanced understanding of local needs. 

Here’s a breakdown of what a well-tuned community outreach campaign might look like:

  • Learn: Does the community have high instances of diabetes and obesity? Maybe there are local pollution concerns. A factory that is causing unusually high instances of respiratory disease. Maybe there is a lot of vaccine hesitancy and COVID-19 still circulates rampantly. Healthcare networks have access to enormous amounts of data. This will help them zero in on what information their community needs, and how best to present it to them. 
  • Strategize: It’s not just a question of what problem the community has, but also what solution they will be receptive to. The vaccine hesitant, for example, has already heard one thousand times that vaccines are safe and effective. Ramping up that message won’t convince anyone. An effective campaign would not only understand the community’s problem but also make special efforts to roll out solutions that locals would be receptive to. 
  • Accept public health initiatives as an iterative process: Iterative process, in this case, means that there is no clear end in sight. The campaign is launched and executed. The results are processed. Revisions are made to make it more effective. This, in effect, Is how all healthcare solutions are leveraged. Patients do not necessarily respond perfectly to initial rounds of treatment. Nor will communities be changed by single rounds of outreach and support. 

Below, we will take a look at a few common healthcare pain points, and provide examples for solutions. 

Transportation

In many places—particularly rural regions—some patients have a hard time getting to the hospital. They may not have access to their own car. In the case of rural communities, they may not have many public transportation options either. 

What kind of healthcare solution is available for communities that are struggling to make their appointments?

There are a couple of options that hospitals all over the country are already leveraging. One is to implement internal patient transportation programs that help people make their appointments. 

These serve effectively as taxi services with very specific routes, getting qualifying patients to and from the hospital. 

The other option? Mobile healthcare clinics. These clinics are effectively doctor’s offices on wheels. They feature adaptable layouts that can be adjusted to the circumstances and allow hospitals to take their care out into the community. 

Healthcare workers can advocate for these initiatives and then educate the public about them to make them run effectively. 

Emphasize Helpful Services

Community outreach isn’t always about reinventing the wheel. Sometimes, community members would simply benefit from learning more about services that already exist. For example, in the last heading, we looked at the issue of transportation.

The solutions mentioned above are great for when patients actually need to be in front of their physician. But what about situations where a remote solution would be just as effective? 

Many hospitals leverage telehealth services that allow patients to communicate with their doctors remotely. The communication usually is not done in real-time— one or two messages are typically exchanged during the course of a working day— but telehealth can be a great way for people to get answers to simple questions without needing to come into the hospital. 

Healthcare workers can strengthen their telehealth services by making sure patients are aware of this option, and that they know how and when to use it. This simple outreach effort can help the patient get easy advice and declutter hospital waiting rooms in the process. 

Meet the Community Where it is At

Finally, think actively about where the community is at. Are there extremely high rates of obesity and type-2 diabetes? Or maybe the general consensus around town is that vaccines are harmful and dangerous. You don’t go right from these baselines to ideal health outcomes. 

Instead, it’s best to understand where the community is at, and then map out what it would take to bring them from that point to one of a more ideal health standard. 

For example, in the case of the vaccine-hesitant, a tempting goal might be to get the majority of people vaccinated. A more realistic one might be to convince the majority of people that vaccines aren’t a dangerous conspiracy. Some of the newly persuaded might go on to get vaccinated. Many will wait and think about it. 

That may be frustrating for healthcare workers who just want to see better outcomes. However, taking a gradual approach may ultimately build more sustainable results. 

Healthcare is all about giving people what they need. Doing this, of course, is always easier said than done. However, by leveraging data to identify vulnerable populations and developing a nuanced strategy for administering care, healthcare workers can provide effective long-term public health solutions.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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EvelynJ
EvelynJ
1 day ago

Healthcare workers play a crucial role in supporting communities through public health initiatives by offering vital services and education. They promote wellness and manage disease prevention programs, fostering healthier communities. In addition, they can guide patients on medication, such as advising to buy Eliquis from Canada when necessary, ensuring effective and accessible treatments. Their efforts significantly impact public health outcomes.