Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July Update

Dear Community Partners and Key Stakeholders,
Summer is upon us and it is hard to keep up with all the programs, fundraisers and other activities taking place and our Engage, Support and Learn pages are full.
Summer is also a big data time for us in the Health Improvement Specialist office. We have hosted an epidemiology intern for the past several years and our current intern from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Anina Aaron, is hard at work updating our scorecard with new data that has been released by the state and other sources of secondary data. She's also working to help build-out our scorecard capabilities for specific strategy areas to better assist our workgroups.

The beautiful bounty of summer's fresh fruits and vegetables is more accessible to some of our SNAP recipients with the long-awaited launch of the Double Up Food Bucks program. Since the start of the soft launch 3 weeks ago, and with little more than in-store promotion of the program, already 85 individuals have signed up with over 100 sales transactions! You can read more about how to begin spreading the word on our Engage Page. We have no shortage of opportunities for engagement this month. Visit our page to find out how you can help us find partners, volunteers, sponsors and young "logo animators" (teaser, you have to visit the page to find out what that's about) for Open Streets Asheville 2017 coming back to downtown in September 17th, help better understand the extent of injuries and incidents at the Riverside Drive railroad crossing, support the annual school supply campaign, say thank you to our Buncombe School Board for supporting summer meals, and engage artists to help our national visualize what health equity looks like.

Last month we highlighted efforts of to start conversations throughout our community about our current opioid crisis and work on developing on customizable educational materials.  Please continue to help us identify individuals and organizations that are interested in receiving training in how to use these materials. Please contact Chiloh Campbell if you would like to learn more or be trained in the presentation materials.

The new Lunch and Learn series on African American History in Buncombe County has been well-received and there are 2 more topics scheduled with Commissioner Al Whitesides speaking on wage gaps and historical wage disparities in the African American Community. New learning opportunities include a September Community Resiliency Training, Building Better Balance Screener Training, and a Save the Date for the October Adverse Childhood Experiences Southeastern Summit. And in the "anytime" learning category, we also have links to specials sections in this month's The Nation's Health on Opioid Use and Injury Prevention. See Learn for details.

Just in time for peak produce season, you can enjoy a fabulous Farm-to-Table Meal on August 7th in Sunny Point Cafe's garden to support FEAST's cooking and garden education programs in Asheville City Schools. If you miss this event there is another Farm-to-Table event later in the month to support Pisgah Legal's Homelessness Prevention Project as well as information on September's Poverty Forum.  Our VOICE is still accepting applications for their August Backpacking Brothers program for middle school boys. There are a lot of job openings posted by CHIP partners this month as well as details on the YWCA's Spanish-language childbirth class.  More information on all of these with link to purchase tickets can be found on our Support page.

Several articles on opioid use that were previously posted on our Facebook feed were discussed at the June Advisory Council meeting. You can still find these as well as a growing list of resources on our Resources You Can Use page.  Please continue to share your needs for support, resources and information to help us all be successful in our work together! Send Facebook or Blog content to Terri at anytime and Update information the second week of the month.

In appreciation of all you do!

Deanna, Lourdes & Terri

Friday, June 16, 2017

June Mid-month Update

Dear Community Partners and Key Stakeholders,
This update is a little bit of a "reboot" for our communication calendar.  After over a year of monthly updates being sent out near the beginning of the month, it appears that a mid-month publication will be more effective in following up on action items from the Advisory Council meeting as well as preparing for the upcoming meeting.  Let us know if you think this is helpful.

The big news is that the much anticipated Double Up Food Bucks program has made it through all the USDA process and we're set to go!  Congratulations to the hard-working partners at the Bountiful Cities, retail partners the French Broad Food Coop (FBFC) and West Village Market and the planning team members! FBFC plans to launch next Thursday, June 22nd.  This Update's "ask" is to help identify individuals needing volunteer hours for SNAP eligibility to serve as Double Up Liaisons. You'll find Information on how you can help us recruit liaisons as well as a flyer that you can hand to potential volunteers on the Engage blog page Also, don't forget the opportunity to provide input into NC's Community Health Worker Initiative core competencies and certification on June 19th

Finally, many of you are aware that a team in Buncombe County is working to start conversations throughout our community about our current opioid crisis. The team is working on educational materials and have begun to identify individuals and organizations that are interested in receiving training in how to use these materials. If you would like to learn more or be trained to give this presentation, please contact Chiloh Campbell. Given these presentation materials are also customizable, please let Chiloh know what audiences you think you may wish to reach so that we can offer trainings based on different audiences.

We are excited to share information on a new Lunch and Learn series on African American History in Buncombe County. Upcoming topics include redlining and gentrification, education, wage disparity and health care.  See Learn for details.  You'll also find details on the The next quarterly Getting to Results Training in July and a September NC Eat Smart Move More event to learn more about how walkability impacts community health and what can be down to improve conditions to make streets more inviting, accessible and safe featuring Mark Fenton, internationally recognized expert on walkability.

Our CHIP partners can use your support this month getting the word out about multiple opportunities in our community. The YWCA of Asheville will be offering a one-day, 6-hour Saturday Spanish-language prenatal class taught by a native Spanish speaker.   They want to hear about interest before scheduling the date.  Please spread the word and have interested women contact the YWCA. Details and a flyer can be found at Support.  Our VOICE is still accepting applications for their Backpacking Brothers program for middle school boys through June 20th. Learn more on our Support page.

Several articles on opioid use that were previously posted on our FB feed were discussed at the June Advisory Council meeting.  You can now find these on our Resources You Can Use page.  

Please continue to share your needs for support, resources and information to help us all be successful in our work together! Update items should be emailed to Terri early in the second week of the month. Please send Facebook or blog items any time and don't forget to like, share and comment. 

In appreciation of all you do!

Deanna, Lourdes & Terri

Thursday, June 15, 2017

June Update

Dear Community Partners and Key Stakeholders,
June is upon us and the month is starting with multiple opportunities listed on our Engage blog page that can use your support.  Quickly approaching is a deadline for applications for City of Asheville boards, commissions and committee openings.  A key step to ensuring local government is informed by those most impacted by the services it provides is that those individuals have a voice.  Please share information on how to apply with those you think can provide that voice. The next application deadline is Wednesday, June 7th! 

Things continue to move slow at the USDA in regard to the waiver required to launch Double Up Food Books.  However, they are apologetic and we expect the waiver soon for an early June launch.  Many of you are likely aware of the new volunteer hour requirement for those SNAP recipients that without dependents that are not employed. Double Up is looking for individuals needing those hours as Double Up Liaisons. Information on how you can help us recruit liaisons can be found on our Engage blog page If you have a background that will allow you to provide input into NC's Community Health Worker Initiative we hope you will participate in a June 19th opportunity to help the initiative develop recommendations for core competencies and certification. The listening session will take place from 5:30-7:30 with dinner provided. Registration is required.

There are just a few community learning opportunities this month.  The next quarterly Getting to Results Training hosted by WNC Healthy Impact is coming up in July.  You'll also find information on a workshop offered by NC Eat Smart Move More to learn more about how walkability impacts community health and what can be down to improve conditions to make streets more inviting, accessible and safe.  Mark Fenton, an internationally recognized expert on walkability will help lead the workshop.  Find out more about these as well as some online learning opportunities at our Learn Blog Page.  

Our CHIP partners can use your support this month getting the word out about multiple opportunities in our community. The YWCA is once again offering their popular Spanish-language nutrition and exercise series ¡Salsa, Salud y Sabor! Our voice is also accepting applications for their Backpacking Brothers program for middle school boys through June 20th. job openings...spread the word! Learn more on our Support page.

New to the Resources You Can Use this month is the Uninsured Outreach Mapping Tool from HRSA was developed to identify where the uninsured reside at the Census Block level (populations from 600-3,000) to assist in efforts to get health care services and coverage to the uninsured.

Please continue to share your needs for support, resources and information to help us all be successful in our work together! Update items should be emailed to Terri the 3rd week of the month. Items can be added to the blog or Facebook at any time. Also note, just like any public blog, you are free to use the comment space below each post to share additional information or opinions!

In appreciation of all you do!

Deanna, Lourdes & Terri

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May Update

Dear Community Partners and Key Stakeholders,

April was a busy month. Many of you participated with the YWCA in it's Stand Against Racism. As of Thursday, April 27th there were 49 different groups in Buncombe County registered for this year's Stand, out of 490 registered events in the entire country. The community also showed up to join Buncombe County HHS and the Family Justice Center for an evening with Mia Birdsong with close to 400 participants. The month brought lots of workgroup momentum and technical support to partners. It looks like May will be even busier, with many opportunities to show up, be heard, learn and support our CHIP work.

Double Up Food Bucks should begin a soft launch in 2 weeks at the French Broad Food Coop and the West Village Market! Our first ask for May is to think about how you can promote this with your clients and neighbors.  We also encourage you to spread the word and/or show-up at a some upcoming public input sessions for state agencies. Don't forget to note the details about a June input session on NC Community Health Workers.  You'll learn more about how you can Engage below and on our blog page.

The Racial Equity Institute is back in Asheville with a workshop on May 19th and 20th to provide a foundation and understanding for communities to do the hard work around addressing racism.  It's time for the 26th annual Strive Not to Drive Week there is an opportunity learn about mobility challenges and complete streets efforts in Asheville. Find out more in Learn. 

There are several opportunities to support our partners in CHIP this month including the 8th annual Walk a Mile this weekend to raise awareness about sexual violence and support Our Voice. Our Voice is also hiring as are Helpmate, Children First Communities in Schools and Pisgah Legal. Learn more on our Support page. 

We'd also like your help in finding housing for our CHIP summer intern, Anina Aaron, who will be joining us in June!  We've been fortunate to expand our resources with an extremely qualified full-time paid Epidemiology intern every year for 5 years.  Some of you may know that CHIP Advisory member Emma Olson with NC Center for Health and Wellness held this position with us in 2014.   Emma played a significant role in launching us in the direction of our Results-Based Accountability framework and scorecard.  Send any leads on housing to Deanna.  

As always, reach out to the CHIP HIS team if you have data or technical assistance needs related to our priority work, and don't forget to refer to the scorecard.  We also are always looking for new information and references for our Resource page.  This month we have added a tool kit on Community Engagement from the Collective Impact Forum. 

You'll also find the article on social isolation and substance use we discussed at the April CHIP Advisory and shared on Facebook. And don't forget, if you need to refer back to information provided in the newsletter, our monthly CHIP Blog Update is a more expanded version of the newsletter.

Friday, February 24, 2017

April Update

Dear Community Partners and Key Stakeholders,
In March our CHIP Advisory learned about exciting efforts in Louisville Kentucky to use the arts as a platform for engaging community and positively impacting health.  Buncombe County Health and Services is working with Kentucky and several other communities to explore how we can use this approach locally. You'll find the PowerPoint from that presentation as well as additional handouts on the right-hand toolbar under Meeting Advisory Materials.

In the public health world, March is a time for reflecting on our community's progress over the past year. BCHHS submitted it's annual State of the County Report to the NC Division of Public Health earlier this month and CHIP advisory members received a brief overview of that reports content. While this is a Buncombe County deliverable, much of our work with CHIP is reflected in this document.  The national County Health Rankings were released this Wednesday.  There was much to be proud of in this report.  We rank #5 among NC in Health Factors that includes health care (where we ranked #2 in the state) as well as health behaviors (with a rank of #7),  Our air quality is steadily improving and we moved from a rank of #49, up from #69 in our physical environment. Concerning is our overall slip in our placement among NC's 100 counties fro 14 to 25.  And while you clearly understand how complex the factors impacting the health of communities are, what stands out the most are slight increases in premature deaths (those before the age of 75), perceptions of poorer health, a significant disparity in infant mortality in our African American families and increases in social and economic disparities. You'll find a link to the Buncombe County's press release here.

We will need your help this month as the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council launches the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) pilot, although we still don't have a start date as of yet.  The required waiver by the USDA to "incentivize" SNAP benefits uncovered a software challenge for Mother Earth Produce so they have stepped aside to allow the West Village Market become the second pilot for this first phase.(note correction since originally posted).  As soon waivers are received we will send you dates and promotional materials to share with your communities. You can read more on our Food Security Blog page. There are several opportunities to engage in conversations about race and inequity. The YWCA of Asheville invites you to join them for their annual Stand Against Racism campaign pril April 27-30th.  For deeper conversations and to gain deeper understanding of racism and and how you can work toward eliminating racism in our community, please consider registering for the Asheville Racial Equity Institute being offered May 19-20 Engage blog page.

We've been really excited by the tremendous interest by our partners in learning how to use the Results Based Accountability to support and better align our CHIP work across the county.  CHIP staff hosted 18 partners and community organizations last week for another Getting to Results Training.  Continue to let us know of interest in further training opportunities.  In the meantime, WNC Healthy Impact regularly hosts quarterly trainings throughout the region and you will always find them listed on our Learn Blog Page.  

Hopefully this is already on your calendars, but please don't forget to join the Family Justice Center and Buncombe County Partnership for Children for community conversation on how your actions create positive change, featuring Mia Birdsong and the voices of our neighbors and community members. The event will be at the Diana Wortham the evening of April 25th. You'll find many more opportunities for professional development and learning this month on our Learn page, including Blue Cross Blue Shields Nonprofit Leadership Academy (applications due April 15th), a conference on the Many Faces of Heroin and Opioid Addiction in Rocky Mount on April 23 and coming in early June, a two-day Community Resiliency Model Training.

There are several opportunities to support our partners in CHIP this month.  Children First/Community in Schools will host their annual "Are you Smarter Than an Elementary Student" on April 20th at the Morris Hellenic Cultural Center. Loads of fun for a good cause! Pisgah Legal has a campaign underway to match funds from an anonymous donor by April 20th to support their“Justice For All Project” to help eligible immigrants secure work authorization and legal status and other needs. Our Voice, Helpmate, Children First and Pisgah Legal all have job openings that would appreciate you sharing. Learn more on our Support page.

We also want to remind you that you can quickly access the scorecard for your data needs through the link at the upper right toolbar on the Blog page.  If you are still uncomfortable navigating the CHIP scorecard, don't forget the short video tutorial that you see at the top of the scorecard. If you are looking for additional data, visit the priority-specific scorecards.  The HIS staff also monitor many additional indicators and are available for assistance if you need help finding the data you need.


Deanna, Lourdes and Terri
CHIP Health Improvement Specialists

Monday, January 30, 2017

February Update

Dear Community Partners and Key Stakeholders,

In December 2015 we selected our Community Health Priorities and began the work of our 3-year CHIP cycle.  Over the past 14 months we have worked with approaching 200 community partners.  With our priority workgroups we have identified the results we plan to work toward and some exciting strategies and action plans are being developed. 

Buncombe County is extremely blessed to have many organizations doing great work. What CHIP has contributed is a new framework for bringing diverse partnerships together that starts with with insuring we are all using a common language and a shared way of evaluation that focuses on "is anyone better off".  The CHIP process doesn't seek to develop new programs or initiatives (although sometimes this happens), rather to build on existing strengths and resources for the greatest collective impact. And enthusiasm for this approach is growing.  Our partners have asked for additional training on how to use this approach within their own organizations and next months "Getting to Results" Training has 43 partners signed up with a waiting list.

Here are a few highlights from the CHIP work so far:
  • Food Security: A Double Up Food Bucks pilot that will bring SNAP matching dollars for the purchase of local produce is set to launch this spring, benefiting food insecure families but also local farmers and local economy.  The Food Security Workgroup is beginning the process to form a collaborative around education and skill building to promote health eating and food security for the purpose increasing efficiency and effectiveness of existing efforts as well as to identify and fill gaps. Partners include the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council and Bountiful Cities (lead organizations), NC Cooperative Extension, Buncombe County Health & Human Services, The French Broad Food Coop, Mother Earth Produce, MAHEC, & YES!  Mountain Wise is a partner for an additional Pilot in Waynesville. Click here for a one-pager on the pilot and CHIP's role. Visit our Food Security Blog for more about our workgroup activities.
  • Safe & Accessible Transportation - The initial Open Streets Asheville was a huge success with 1500 joining us in the streets to play, be active, and learn about organizations and efforts to make Buncombe County healthier.  Planning for 2017 is getting started with efforts to engage more diverse voices in this process and truly grow Open Streets Asheville into a tool for community-building and furthering the result of Safe and Accessible Transportation for all.  The workgroup was very involved in efforts to educate and inform the community about the Asheville Bond referendum.  The Bond measure passed by a wide margin which will bring significant dollars for transportation and recreation infrastructure.  
  • Diabetes: Clinical efforts to engage with community and refer to the high quality community-based program is gaining traction. In particular, pharmacist and research collaboration are participating in workgroup efforts. Shared data is beginning to be collected and the Diabetes Workgroup and partners are being integrated into some substantive diabetes grant initiatives.
  • Intimate Partner Violence: The Opening of the Family Justice Center has had a huge impact on our community in supporting woman and families impacted by violence. CHIP staff are now providing leadership in development of an IPV Comprehensive Prevention Plan and are also working with the Family Justice Center to revisit the focus group process that took place before the center opened to assess impact.
  • Infant Mortality: The visit of Dr. Arthur James to Asheville was a powerful event in our community and the workgroup has spent a lot of time learning from the successes in Michigan in reducing health disparities in infant mortality (information from his visit can be found on our Infant Mortality Blog).  A visit to Kalamazoo helped us learn more and a collaboration around home visiting with pregnant or newly parenting women to look at capacity, gaps and how we can better serve our community. An advocacy agenda has also been drafted.  
  • Substance Abuse:   MAHEC's FITSU program is moving forward with efforts to expand the number of primary care providers (especially in rural counties) who dispense suboxone for medically assisted treatment of opioid addiction—which significantly increases success of treatment. Vaya Health is also now convening regional umbrella structure to support and coordinate efforts to combat substance use disorder in its 23-county region.  FITSU and Mission's coalition on substance use in pregnancy are part of this.  
Leadership for the CHIP Advisory has recently engaged in some strategic planning and in the upcoming year we hope to focus more on meaningful ways to engage the many skills, resources and connections of our leadership to move this work forward.

We are excited to introduce our newest team member, Lourdes Lorenz-Miller! Lourdes steps into the role held by Deborah Calhoun before she moved to United Way.  She will be the lead for the Infant Mortality and Substance Abuse priorities.  Visit our CHIP staff page to learn more about Lourdes.


Deanna, Lourdes and Terri
CHIP Health Improvement Specialists

Monday, December 19, 2016

January Update

Holiday Greetings to the CHIP Advisory Board and Partners from your Leadership Team!

We have a unique model in Buncombe County that we are particularly proud of, energized by, and thankful to be a part of. Every North Carolina health department is required to produce a community health assessment (CHA) and subsequent action plan. Most accomplish this with the help of a local coalition. In our county and region, we chose to broaden our perspective with the Community Health Improvement Process (CHIP) and to assure an intentional connection with our health systems across our region. The result is called WNC Healthy Impact, which is the foundation of our CHIP structure and is the organizational effort that brought hospitals and health departments across a 16-county region together in a very intentional way to orchestrate a model CHA/CHIP process. 

Additionally, Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) holds a unique contract with MAHEC that supports the Health Improvement Specialists.  This partnership with MAHEC has enabled the community health improvement process to be richer and farther reaching, as well as to build a stronger connection between community health and health care. BCHHS has had a longstanding relationship with our Mission partners around the CHA/CHIP and that has only grown stronger through Healthy Impact and the HHS-MAHEC partnership. The CHIP Leadership Team is a reflection of the HHS, MAHEC, Mission partnership working closely with the elected Chair and Co-Chair of the Advisory Board.  We are proud of our model and hope you are as well.

The leadership team will be undertaking a strategic planning process in January. Remaining a strong, relevant and productive coalition requires periodic assessment of ourselves. Much like the strategic planning session the CHIP Advisory did in 2015, this will focus on the leadership team in an effort to continue to improve effectiveness and advisory board leadership.

We are also pleased to introduce Zo Mpofu, pictured lower front left. Zo is one of the latest additions to Health and Human Services, sitting in Public Health and reporting to the Health Director, Jan Shepard.  Zo will serve as a Program Consultant for the CHA/CHIP process. Zo will also sit on the CHIP 
Leadership Team and you will see her at CHIP Advisory Board meetings. She will work closely with our Health Improvement Specialists and MAHEC as we continue through our CHA/CHIP cycle.  You will meet Zo and learn more about her at our next CHIP board meeting.  We are also pleased to report that the second round of interviews is underway for the Health Improvement Specialist position and we expect to have our new team member on board by mid January or early February.

We will not meet as a full board in January on 1/5/17, so please take that meeting off your calendar. The leadership team will communicate with the full board after the strategic planning session.

We wish to thank all of you for your dedication to community health improvement. We have had a productive year in which each of you have contributed greatly. The process of community health improvement is not a quick one, and your tireless efforts to remain engaged is remarkable. Have a wonderful holiday season and we look forward to seeing you in 2017!


Jan, Zo, Sonya, Allison, Stephanie, and Frank