The primary mission of the BCBSNC Community Health and Wellness Institute of Southeastern NC is to foster partnerships between the university and the community while addressing health disparities in southeastern NC to improve health and life outcomes for individuals, families, and communities and to promote a well-diverse healthcare workforce. This is being done through the support of the development of team-based care models, identification of new academic programs needed, enhanced field placement clinical partnerships, interprofessional education, continuing education for area healthcare providers, conducting research, and focusing on community engagement. In partnership with BCBSNC, the Institute creates an entity with a networked improvement goal to create solutions to long-standing problems through programming partnerships between the university and the community.
Work is guided by the Results-Based Accountability (RBA) approach. RBA is a disciplined way of thinking and taking action that communities can use to improve the lives of children, families, and the community as a whole. RBA is a seven-step process that moves a group from talk to action, starting with ends and working backward, step by step, towards means:
Step 1: What are the quality of life conditions (results) we want for the children, adults and families who live in our community?
Step 2: What would these conditions look like if we could see or experience them?
Step 3: How can we measure these conditions (indicators)?
Step 4: How are we doing on the most important measures, getting better or worse?
Step 5: Who are the partners that have a role to play in doing better?
Step 6: What works to do better, including no-cost and lost-cost ideas?
Step 7: What do we propose to do?
The Institute supports partnerships leading to social change that addresses the entrenched drivers of poor health. While collaborating with numerous community partners, the Institute focuses on and implements its eight priorities.
Priority1 - Coalition for Health Focuses on working with community partners to improve health. The many collaborations have allowed UNCP to work with others in addressing several of the Healthy NC 2030 selected health indicators while improving the health and well-being of families and communities.
Priority2 - Makerspace The Makerspace was intended to serve as the Health Sciences Center for Innovation and Creativity. This space was to provide creative tools in an environment that promotes brainstorming and as an important hub for interprofessional education where interdisciplinary teams of students and faculty could collaborate on new models of care, creative and practical solutions to problems, and community engagement. Due to the long-term and ongoing impact of COVID-19, the CHS decided to pause the development and implementation of Makerspace and funding was re-directed towards additional supplies and equipment for the two mobile health units (via the SON and CHS). The units are serving as an innovative laboratory, clinical, and educational space to meet the health care needs of rural and underserved communities. The original allocated space serves as a study area for students.
Priority3 - Careers in Wellness UNCP has been working with Health Career Connection (HCC), a national non-profit program that connects health sectors with talented and diverse future health professionals and leaders, especially those from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds to choose and successfully pursue healthcare and public health careers. Their structured internship program provides students with real world exposure, experience, mentoring and networking that assists them in achieving their goals while supporting host organizations to meet their workforce, diversity, and community health priority goals. The goal is to increase the number of diverse, value-driven health leaders and professionals capable of solving complex health challenges. We recruit local healthcare agencies, assist with recruiting our students, and support the paid, structured summer internship program. Also, efforts are made to promote health and wellness, along with health careers with youth via community engagement and projects with the Public Schools of Robeson County, Scotland County Public Schools, and local community agencies.
Priority4 - Life Skills Development Curriculum in Public Schools In collaboration with the Public Schools of Robeson County, Robeson Community College, and the Lumbee Tribe of NC, UNCP’s Office for Community and Civic Engagement developed a volunteer-based life skills development curriculum to be implemented in high schools across the county building life and transitions skills for post high school graduation. Student service leaders implement the life skills development program and workshops in schools and to youth in community-based agencies, teaching life skills, good choices, and healthy living (i.e., healthy eating, exercise, health literacy, etc.).
Priority5 - Speaker Series Focuses on developing and implementing a speaker series about inter-professional education throughout the academic year featuring nationally recognized experts in team-based care, technology and health care, and the social determinants of health culminating in an annual symposium that highlights students, faculty, and regional excellence in health care and specifically inter-professional education.
Priority6 - Academic Service-Learning Opportunities Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that incorporates meaningful service into course curriculum to enhance student learning and community engagement. UNCP as an institution is committed to providing service-learning opportunities which is evidenced by the large number of service-learning courses at UNCP. Faculty/staff of the Office for Community and Civic Engagement (CCE) and the CHS developed the service-learning opportunities, with strategies to include identifying and supporting a CHS faculty fellow and other CHS faculty in service-learning.
Priority7 - CARE Resource Center Expansion The CARE Resource Center is UNCP’s on-campus food pantry and professional clothing closet, open to students, faculty, staff, and community. In addition to meeting the immediate needs related to hunger and food insecurity, the CARE Resource Center offers educational workshops in collaboration with academic service-learning courses to inform the public about topics focused on basic skill development related to financial literacy, health and wellness, career readiness, self-care, and identifying and leveraging community resources. The CHS efforts are towards assisting CCE with expansion and support of the CARE Resource Center.
Priority8 - Collaboration to Address Mental Health in Robeson County Aims to address the mental health disparities in Robeson County through continued coalition development, community engagement, completion of a mental health service gap analysis, and financial sustainability. The CHS focuses on continuing coalition building with organizations that can help address and respond to gaps in service and supporting ongoing mental health concerns including the high rates of substance misuse in the county. Efforts are made to assist existing programs and promote prevention and education and awareness measures.
Jacqueline Davis, PhD, MPH
Director, Community Health & Wellness Institute and SPARC Project Director