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Flip or Flop: Creating a healthier Kershaw County

Posted: November 7, 2016 5:36 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2016 1:00 a.m.
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Pictured left are Dr. Soma Stout, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Susan Witkowski, CEO, Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County, Holly Hayes, LiveWell Kershaw and USC’s Arnold School of Public Health, Tim Hudson, Board Chair, Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County.

On October 28, LiveWell Kershaw and the Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County held a conference attended by business, government, civic, education and healthcare leaders in the county for Flip or Flop to determine definitive steps necessary to make Kershaw County the healthiest county in the state. 

KershawHealth Marketing Director Judy Ferrell said community leaders, as well as students from ATEC and North Central High School attended. Throughout the day, participants broke into groups to brainstorm what elements are necessary to create a collaborative and cohesive health delivery system to benefit the entire county. 

The event featured three speakers: Dr. Soma Stout, Executive Lead for Health Improvement at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement; Laura Brennan, co-chair of 100 Million Healthier Lives and director of Pathway to Pacesetter; and Holly Hayes, principal investigator for LiveWell Kershaw and research associate with USC’s Arnold School of Public Health. 

  “For Kershaw County to be the healthiest county in this state, we really need a connection of purpose,” Hayes said.  “I am so happy to hear that the Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County and others have all these ideas about what needs to happen to transform Kershaw County.”  

Hayes went on to say that the county needs to “love people back to health” rather than processing them through the healthcare system. She also emphasized that medicine is not always the way to get healthy. She said certain behaviors – like smoking, diet, and drug and alcohol use – affect health as well. 

 “We don’t need to just look at clinical care,” Hayes said. “We have to see what’s going on in their home, their income, health behaviors and environment. All those factors affect a person’s health.”  

She went on to say not just one healthcare entity or food pantry can help love people back to health or aid a community to a healthy lifestyle – it takes the collaborative efforts of a variety of groups and organizations. Flip or Flop was designed to bring a broad range of community organizations together to explore how they can more effectively coordinate their initiatives to maximize their impact, she said. 

Stout agreed, saying answers to health problems and how to make a community healthier can be solved by everybody in the community coming together. An outside source is not always needed to handle problems.  “Look at the assets in the community, and see what you are doing right. So much is already being done, but it’s often disconnected. You have everything you need – people just have to work together if we are going to build on each other,” Stout said.   

Stout said an average family spends 30 percent of every dollar on healthcare.

 “It costs money for a community to get healthier,” she notes, “but reducing duplications and combining assets frees up other money in the community.” 

Stout also believes in looking beyond healthcare for health improvements. To accomplish that, communities must work with the federal government on healthcare and collaborate with local educators, leaders, and healthcare entities to create policies and programs that work.  

 “Policies need to be created to facilitate collaboration. Programs are good too, but often people do not know it is okay to use different programs in the community for healthcare,” Stout said.  

According to Stout, the single greatest predictor of a person’s health is graduating from high school. North Central High School, a LiveWell partner, recognizes this connection. The administration, parents, and students work very closely together to care for the whole student and his or her family – as demonstrated by receiving the Palmetto Gold award for the last two years. 

In addition, North Central High School is home to one of the only rural school-based health centers in the state that provides both acute care and mental health services.  Vicky Craig, Family Nurse Practitioner and satellite director for the school-based center at North Central also travels to different sites in the county to assist in making people healthy. 

 “I consider this my ministry,” Craig said. “It’s all about making a connection and developing relationships, about helping people get access to healthcare and delivering community services to the underserved.”  

For those Craig serves, spending 30 percent of their income on healthcare is often unrealistic, she said. In fact, she travels to different communities and believes a lot of people do not have 30 percent of anything, she added.  

“How can they use 30 percent of anything they do not have?” Craig inquired. “Sometimes people have food, but absolutely nothing else. Or either they have nothing at all, and cannot spend anything at all.”  

Ferrell said that by the end of the day, the more than 100 participants in Flip or Flop recognized the tools available to make Kershaw County the healthiest county in South Carolina.  

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