Across jurisdictions and within communities—where health statistics lag behind local, state, and national averages—ARCHI’s partners engage in tactically precise practices to confront our region’s health inequities.
Georgia Community Health Worker Initiative
The Georgia Community Health Worker (CHW) initiative aims to create a statewide CHW model for Georgia. Since the creation of the CHW Steering Team in the summer of 2016 and the Advisory Board the following year, a variety of organizations, including ARCHI, have been brought together to accomplish this goal. Following its inception, the Steering Team has hosted two CHW Forums that have facilitated the alignment of statewide efforts to define, train, and certify CHWs. Looking to the future, the finalization of the drafted consensus document that focuses on recommendations for CHW training, certification, and a payment model will allow the state to begin implementation and evaluation of the plan during the upcoming legislative session.
Vouchers for Seniors Bolster East Point Farmers Market
The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) partnered with the East Point Farmers Market to make $20 vouchers for people over the age of 60 available to those who came to the market in July 2015. This allowed the market to recruit more farmers because they had a guaranteed crowd with a certain amount of funds to spend. The team also worked with Wholesome Wave and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to double the vouchers. This was so successful for both the older adults and the East Point Farmers Market that when additional vouchers became available from the state, they were again applied to the East Point Farmers Market attendees in September 2015. The East Point Farmers Market is now on a growth trajectory as the crowds created by the vouchers have continued to draw both farmers and market customers. The Atlanta Regional Commission now regularly targets the senior farmers market vouchers to markets that are still in their start-up phase and continue to experience the same success in different parts of the region.
Atlanta Public and Fulton County Schools Physical Education Program
With financial support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) grant program, the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness (FCDHW) works with a number of partners to support implementation of evidence-based strategies and initiatives with the goals of reducing health disparities, lowering the incidence of chronic disease and promoting healthier lifestyles throughout Fulton County. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and its key partner for school initiatives, the Georgia Health Policy Center, led an initiative in Fulton County Schools and Atlanta Public Schools to provide health and physical education (HPE) teachers with professional development opportunities, tools and technology. The goal was to increase moderate to vigorous physical activity in PE and across the school day. Tailored technical assistance, free resources and technology, and evidence-based curriculum, such as wellness council support, pedometers and the Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids (SPARK) PE program, were also provided to interested schools. Schools were supported in creating action plans informed by a school health assessment to understand current school wellness strengths, opportunities for improvement, and priorities for action. Through this initiative and continued use of these resources, these schools hope to reach the Georgia Shape goal of having 69% of Georgia students within the Healthy Fitness Zone for Body Mass Index by 2023.
Activating Youth Leadership through Community Health Worker Training
In June 2016, the Tri-Cities Stewardship Group was given the opportunity to participate in a pilot community health worker (CHW) training program for high schoolers. Through the program the Tri-Cities Stewardship Group was able to provide thirteen local high school students a paid four-week CHW training and internship through the Morehouse School of Medicine. In August 2017, a second group of 25 high school students completed the program and received their CHW certification. Over the next year these students will monitor the health of family or community members and connect them to needed resources, fulfilling the program’s goals of improving health monitoring and health literacy in the community. The program has achieved great preliminary outcomes and the program model is highly sought after by universities and community-based organizations, preparing these students for a career in the health sector.
East Point Smoke-Free Ordinance
On May 31st, 2017 the city of East Point, Georgia voted to prohibit smoking in the city’s parks and recreation areas, as well as certain eating establishments and housing facilities. This decision completed the initiative by the Fulton County Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) to make every Fulton County park and recreation area smoke-free, which began with the banning of smoking in 18 Fulton County parks in September 2016. PICH partners worked directly with East Point city officials providing model language, training for staff, marketing, and signage.
College Park Housing Authority Initiative
Through the partnerships of ARCHI, a myriad of health services were provided to the residents of the College Park Housing Authority. This included health services related to food and nutrition, diabetes, and mental health provided by Open Hand, Alliant Health Solutions, and the Odyssey Family Counseling Center respectively. ARCHI acted as a conduit for cultivating the partnership, allowing these organizations to achieve a greater impact through working together.
Shared Initiatives in the DeLowe Village Community
DeLowe Village is a low-income housing community owned by the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP). Its residents are in many ways representative of the larger East Point community and need support to improve their health and food access, as well as their economic opportunities. Resources of ARCHI partners, such as Kaiser Permanente and the Atlanta Community Food Bank, have been leveraged to provide after school support, cooking and healthy eating classes, the rebuilding of a playground, and landscaping to encourage physical activity.
Standing with Our Neighbors
The Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF) has for many years advocated for tenant rights of residents of Fulton County who may be wrongly facing eviction or are being forced to live in substandard conditions by absentee landlords. AVLF has worked to eradicate mold, repair roof leaks, and ensure adequate heating and cooling systems. In doing so, residencies now meet basic codes and legal criteria and show the impact these living conditions were having on health conditions like asthma, pneumonia, and other chronic conditions. ARCHI connected AVLF with Kaiser Permanente so now while the lawyers of AVLF bring the landlords to court, Kaiser Permanente can provide immediate relief and improvements to families through humidifiers, filters and other equipment.
Active Living Work in East Point
The City of East Point was selected as an area of focus for the Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) active living work. As a result, the PICH team has worked with several of ARCHI’s partners to complete a walking audit, create a database of detailed sidewalk conditions in main areas of the community, and identify the local barriers to a Complete Streets implementation. Workshops led by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) taught both the residents of East Point and city staff the meaning and importance of Complete Streets for their community. With the data gained by the walking audit and input from residents, a comprehensive report was provided to the city of East Point to act as a guide for short- and long-term opportunities to implementing Complete Streets. One such opportunity is the continuance of police escorted walking groups by local congregations.
DeKalb Leadership Learning Series
ARCHI helped organize a DeKalb Leadership Learning Series in order to increase the capacity of local leaders to create community change. Eleven participants, which included representation from neighborhoods, non-profits, and health care systems, completed the four-session series. The focus of the series was set by the larger group of stakeholders who had participated in an 18 month community assessment process and included the social determinants of health, cultural competency, and community engagement. The participants are applying the information gained through the series in their leadership roles within their respective communities.
Multi-System Community Health Needs Assessment
Five local Georgia health systems came together to collaboratively complete the region’s most comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) to date. Through a combined investment in the CHNA process, Kaiser Permanente, Mercy Care, Piedmont Health System, WellStar, and Grady Health System were able to leverage resources and more efficiently gather and analyze data, including substantial community input from a variety of organizations and individuals. The scale of the CHNA enabled a more comprehensive assessment of health and well-being that incorporated transportation, education, and economic issues.
ARCHI is a growing coalition of public, private and nonprofit organizations committed to improving the region’s health. If your organization shares this goal, please consider joining us.