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Hope Initiative Unites Community Partners to Improve Health Among Church Members

Partners Focus On Prevention Among Macon-Bibb's Faith-Based Community

Healthy Communities, Atrium Health Navicent - in partnership with Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) and Bethel CME Church on Pio Nono Avenue - is pleased to announce the H.O.P.E. (Health Outreach Prevention and Enrichment) Initiative.

Through the H.O.P.E. Initiative, community partners collaborate on efforts to address the challenge of improving the health status of our community from different perspectives. The H.O.P.E. Initiative, named in honor of neurologist and MUSM professor since 1982 Dr. Thomas Hope, brings physicians, healthcare workers and medical students together with church leaders to promote the health of church members and the community at large. On its inaugural Sunday, the healthcare team addressed hypertension, examining 16 church members and providing blood pressure checks and blood draws as needed. Those who required additional service were referred for additional testing and instructed to follow up with their physicians.

If someone does not have a physician, H.O.P.E. Initiative care coordinators assess the individual's needs and refer the individual to a community partner who will best meet the individual's health needs as well as their financial and transportation needs. Those community partners currently include First Choice Primary Care, Macon Volunteer Clinic, Community Health Care Systems and Mercer Medicine.

"Our long term goal is to provide this service one to two Sundays per month, and also provide on weekdays as needed. We are piloting this intervention program at Bethel CME, and look forward to expanding the program to include other congregations," said Carol Babcock, Director of Healthy Communities, Atrium Health Navicent.

Healthy Communities, Atrium Health Navicent is charged with addressing the social determinants that lead to poor health, and taking steps to improve clinical outcomes for individuals while improving healthcare equity within the community. Along with area partners, Atrium Health Navicent is taking strategic and measurable steps to improve the overall health of the community, one individual at a time. The H.O.P.E. Initiative is one such partnership.

"This is a unique experience for our students to enhance their clinical skills while meeting a significant need within our community. It is beautiful to see so many in our community coming together to enhance health, prevent illness and avoid hospitalizations," said Keisha R. Callins, MD, MPH, Chair and Assistant Professor at Mercer University's School of Medicine and Department of Community Medicine.

In order to understand the health needs of the local community, and in an effort to guide residents toward greater health and wellness, Atrium Health Navicent conducted a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in 2015. Through a random survey of residents in Atrium Health Navicent's primary service area, as well as conversations with key community leaders and research of existing data, Atrium Health Navicent identified the primary needs to address in fiscal years 2016-2018. Sixty-five percent of respondents in the 2015 CHNA report they attended a church service within the last month, and plans were made to create a faith-based outreach program. The H.O.P.E. Initiative is one result of this plan and will serve as an intermediary between the faith and health communities through educational programs and select screenings in local churches. The program's goal is to meet the people in our community on their own territory and to explore the best strategies to support and enhance health promotion among the congregation and their community.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent was incorporated on November 17, 1994, as a nonprofit corporation whose primary purpose is to coordinate The Medical Center, Navicent Health and other affiliated entities in their mission of providing a comprehensive continuum of high quality, reasonably priced healthcare services to the region. Atrium Health Navicent has 970 beds for medical, surgical, rehabilitation and hospice purposes. The health system includes The Medical Center, Navicent Health, a nationally recognized tertiary teaching hospital; Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital, the region's only dedicated pediatric hospital; Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin and Medical Center of Peach County, Atrium Health Navicent, both rural critical access hospitals; Rehabilitation Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent, the region's oldest and most experienced rehabilitation provider; Pine Pointe, Atrium Health Navicent, which provides palliative and hospice care in homes and in its facility; Carlyle Place, Atrium Health Navicent, the area's first continuing care retirement community; Navicent Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Atrium Health Navicent; as well as diagnostic and home care services. For more information, please visit