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Everyone Healthier Communities

Healthy lives start with healthy communities

When our neighbors are healthy and have access to the care, programs and resources they need to be well, we all win. At Spectrum Health, we are committed to ensuring that everyone – no matter their age, race or zip code, has the support they need to live their best life.

Healthier Communities does just that. Our team of dedicated and passionate community health workers, nurses, doctors and leaders “stand in the gap” to meet people wherever they may be to get them the answers, services and support they need.

Learn more about our programs that are:

  • Ensuring Black and Latino mothers and babies have every opportunity for a healthy start
  • Keeping kids in school and fostering participation and engagement in class
  • Connecting our non-English speaking neighbors with whatever programs and support they need
  • Making sure every community has the fundamental rights that support good health – quality education, affordable housing, safe parks and so much more
  • Investing in community programs and partnerships that deliver the support, education and services our neighbors need
  • Empowering, educating and advocating for patients with chronic diseases so that they have the confidence to find their own voice with their providers

Read more here.

Connecting everyone to a healthier life

We’re working with school districts across our region – from Ludington to Zeeland; from Muskegon to Montcalm – to keep every student healthy, engaged and, most importantly, in class and learning. Our School Health program focuses on reducing chronic absenteeism, addressing health disparities, caring for chronic illnesses in order to ensure students feel confident and engaged in school. For some kids and families, that’s the difference between understanding the math assignment and struggling to catch up; to eagerly raising their hand in class to hoping the teacher won’t call on them. Learn more about Healthier Communities School Health programs here.
When Spectrum Health Healthier Communities and community partners realized in 2003 that the infant mortality rate for Black babies was 19.4 per 1,000 live births in Kent County, compared to 7 per 1,000 live for white babies, they knew they had to act. With that wake-up call, our Maternal Infant Health experts worked with community partners to develop Strong Beginnings: A program that connects Black and Latinx pregnant women and new mothers with the resources they – and their babies need – to start strong.

Community health workers advocate for and support mothers however they need it – whether it’s navigating Medicaid enrollment, finding transportation for doctor’s visits or offering breastfeeding and nutrition support. While the infant mortality rate for Black babies remains too high, these efforts are slowly helping close that gap. The most recent data shows Kent County’s infant mortality rate for Black babies has dropped to 9.7 - still higher than 4.4 for white babies. Our efforts won’t stop until it’s a strong beginning for every mother and every baby. Click here to learn more.
For Leyla Flores Morales and her team of nurses and community health workers, good health goes beyond educating the people they see each day on their chronic conditions as part of Healthier Communities’ Core Health program that is working towards creating the highest level of health equity in our communities. It includes empowering their clients to voice their questions, concerns and ideas during a doctor’s visit, a nurse’s phone call or any conversation about their health. Together, they work with each and every individual they see to have an open conversation, to set goals and to make a plan that puts that individual on a path to meet their every goal. Learn more about Core Health here.
More Life Mas Vida focuses on improving the health and wellness of our communities in creative and collaborative ways. Not only do they provide community members with tools for understanding their risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including free biometric screenings, group and individual healthy lifestyle education and care coordination with their primary care providers, they are also a rapid response team when immediate community needs present themselves.

When Covid-19 ravaged the communities they serve, they jumped into action doing outreach and collaborating with community partners to provide access to food, masks, hand sanitizers and educational material. Their Community Health Workers often became their participants safety net when their resources were pulled out from under them. Care Managers proactively did Covid assessments and facilitated scheduling of testing and direct follow up, removing many barriers to care.

Whether in a pandemic or not, More Life Mas Vida advocates for equitable access to healthcare within Spectrum Health and with community partners because health outcomes shouldn’t depend on zip code, language, culture or background. Learn more here.

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