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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Want to be effective in your community? Get out from behind the walls

Joy Daughtery Dickinson is executive editor of the Hospital Group of publications at AHC Media in Atlanta and long-time editor and writer of Same-Day Surgery. She has won nine national awards from the Specialized Information Publishers Association and the Association of Business Information & Media Companies for her blogging, news writing, and editing. She makes her home in southwest Georgia.

Last week I attended a SoulFeast conference at Lake Junaluska, NC. I heard several talks by Elaine Heath, PhD, MDiv, from Southern Methodist University. She’s the founder of New Day and the Epworth Project in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

New Day is a network of missional micro-churches, and many of them are multi-cultural. They conduct services in the languages of the people who attend. These churches welcome everyone, including “persons with no religious faith, persons from other religions, people who are marginalized for any reason, skeptics, seekers, and learners."

“We believe ‘love your neighbor’ means every neighbor God sends.” the ministry says on its web site.

The Epworth Project is a network of monastic residential communities. People who live in the communities serve at least four hours a week in outreach missions. At Bonhoeffer House, members work mostly among the urban homeless who live around the house. At Casa Oscar Romero, they work with a Hispanic mission church. The Amani House focuses on refugees.

Heath emphasized that to be effective, you have to be willing to leave your comfortable facility and “go into hell.” She mentioned how one immigrant family couldn’t get repairs on their moldy apartment until the ministry intervened. “Nothing can help like being in a community,” Heath said. The bottom line: People are drawn in, she said.

Hospitals are experiencing that same effect when they reach out to the needy in their communities. Florida Hospital in Orlando is the lead partner in Bithlo Transformation Project. Bithlo is a poor area about 20 miles from downtown Orlando. Residents there don’t have clean water, safe housing, or public transportation that can take them where they need to go. Chronic problems in the area include unemployment, illiteracy, and homelessness. Florida Hospital is tackling multiple areas that go beyond just healthcare to include housing, education, environmental issues, transportation, and basic services. Beyond those focus areas, they hope to create a sense of community and develop economic opportunities. Florida Hospital is working with more than 65 organizations, including humanitarian aid organization United Global Outreach. They have created “Transformation Village,” which has a medical clinic, mobile dental services, and a domestic violence coordinator.

Florida Hospital and other hospitals are being honored this weekend by the American Hospital Association with an AHA NOVA Award. “The AHA NOVA award recognizes hospitals and collaborative efforts that show how caring and compassion can improve health and wellness,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “The hospitals leading these programs are truly inspirational examples of how the power of collaboration can make our communities healthier, safer, and better places to live.”

Where can you go to make a difference in your community today? (Editor’s note: Obtain hospital-related breaking news as it happens on Twitter @HospitalReport.)