Connection Academy Conference Builds Relationships Among Healthcare and Human Service Providers
GREENSBORO — During this time of Medicaid transformation, the NC Department of Health and Human Services has identified four social determinants of health or healthy opportunities that will be actively addressed. The four opportunities are housing, transportation, food insecurity, and interpersonal violence. In the fall of 2018, Greensboro AHEC hosted a conference on healthy opportunities that focused on these four determinants. The energy, passion, and concern of the more than 200 participants who attended that conference spilled over into a follow-up training that was led by Greensboro AHEC. Born from the evaluations and community planning members was the Human Service and Health Care Providers Connection Academy (“Connection Academy”).
Starting in January of 2019, interested participants were asked to complete a survey to join the inaugural cohort of the Human Service and Health Care Providers Connection Academy. A diverse cohort of 56 participants who worked in either health care, food insecurity, housing, interpersonal violence, or transportation was invited to join a three-month longitudinal education event. The intent of the Connection Academy was to build relationships across individuals in healthcare and community human service organizations. The participants represented 38 unique organizations across seven N.C. counties. Participants attended three face-to-face sessions and three informational webinars. Topics covered include the identification and merging of the healthcare, public health and human service models of care; understanding the barriers of the regulatory world; the NCCARE360 platform; Healthy Opportunity screening forms; and N.C. Medicaid transformation.
Over the Connection Academy’s three months, participants joined in meaningful connections across local organizations, held crucial conversations around racial equity and wealth divide, shared real-time information on statewide initiatives, and provided tangible examples of projects addressing healthy opportunities in the community.
“The beauty and benefit of the Human Service and Health Care Providers Connection Academy were that it brought together people from a broad range of human services and health care organizations to focus on the important intersection of health services and human services organizations addressing social drivers of health, in order to achieve better health outcomes," said one participant. "I liked the fact that the sessions went deeper than conversation and included reflection, interaction, and group projects. It was remarkable to hear diverse viewpoints, but a shared vision of better health outcomes for all. I came away with partnerships and action steps that I can implement right away.”
In the future, the success of upstreaming healthy opportunities to improve health outcomes will rely on meaningful connections between human service and healthcare providers in all counties across North Carolina. The inaugural cohort of the Human Service and Health Care Providers Connection Academy is just the beginning of Greensboro AHEC’s journey to meeting NC AHEC’s mission of bridging academic institutions and communities to improve the health of the people of North Carolina with a focus on underserved populations.
The Human Service and Health Care Providers Connection Academy was made possible by an NC AHEC Investment in the Future grant and a collaborative effort between Greensboro AHEC, Cone Health Healthy Communities, Cone Health Foundation, United Way of Greater Greensboro, Guilford County Health Department, and the Alamance County Health Department.