Nearly 20 years ago, Boston Children’s Hospital was among the first academic medical centers in the country to expand the traditional missions of clinical care, teaching and research to embrace a fourth core mission: community health.
Our approach to improving the health and well-being of children and families in our local community has evolved and matured over time. Today, we concentrate our community efforts in the areas where we have the expertise, resources and partnerships to improve child health outcomes, address significant health needs in our community and contribute to the changing health care environment.
Boston Children’s community mission is to:
- Provide the best quality care to our patients and serve as a safety net hospital
- Develop and support community programs to make an impact and address the most pressing community health needs—asthma, obesity, mental health and child development
- Work with partners to address health and non-health issues that affect the entire community
Boston Children's Hospital's Fitness in the City Program was thrilled to receive the NOVA Award through the American Hospital Association (AHA) on July 23, 2012.
Christine Healey, MPH, Program and Community Partnerships manager, receives the NOVA Award on behalf of Boston Children's Fitness in the City Program (FIC).
The above diagram illustrates how Boston Children’s Hospital views and organizes its resources and expertise to fulfill its community mission. The model illustrates two important points. First, our community mission is singularly driven by community needs and assets which we identify through a comprehensive assessment process. Second, our assessment identifies issues of most importance to community partners and the families living in neighborhoods surrounding the hospital. Boston Children’s responds to these needs through various hospital-based clinical services and programs as well through community-based programs.Issues are prioritized based on the greatest needs and the expertise and resources available. Our goal is to leverage hospital and community resources and avoid the duplication of services. The Office of Child Advocacy (OCA) created an OCA dashboard. This dashboard was created to measure OCA's effectiveness and efficiency and to report on its efforts to support the Boston Children’s community mission and the work of community programs.
Community Needs Assessment and Plan
Everything Boston Children’s does to fulfill its community mission is based on how it can have an impact and significantly make a difference in addressing the most pressing health and non-health issues challenging families and our community.
Through its assessment process, Boston Children’s works with the community to shape its strategy for best meeting needs. This strategy informs the hospital’s work plan for improving child health outcomes and responding to community needs.
We believe that a formal needs and assets assessment should never present a surprise. Instead, continuous dialogue with our community should highlight existing and emerging issues before they are identified in the formal process.
Every three years, we conduct a comprehensive assessment to “take the pulse” of the Boston neighborhoods surrounding the hospital. Focus groups with residents, interviews with key stakeholders and an analysis of data provides us with insight about not just concerns and needs, but also the strengths and resources available in our community. Our last formal report was completed in 2009.
Boston Children’s is now preparing for the next assessment to be completed in 2013.
Informal and ongoing assessment
The Office of Child Advocacy (OCA) regularly convenes providers and staff working on community health initiatives throughout the hospital. This internal Community Health Team provides feedback on the current challenges and needs of families and provides input on how the hospital can best work with its partners. Our Community Advisory Board also provides us with a direct link to expertise on Boston neighborhoods, community organizations and current health needs.
OCA also meets on a regular basis with leaders and staff at community health centers, community organizations and city agencies to better understand the impact of health issues and barriers to care.
Based on community needs, Boston Children’s has identified and prioritized four health focus areas (asthma, mental health, child development and obesity) and has developed and implemented programs to address these health needs and improve child health outcomes. The programs (Advocating Success for Kids, Children’s Hospital Neighborhood Partnerships, Community Asthma Initiative and Fitness in the City) are viewed collectively as part of a portfolio that utilizes uniform standards. Each program must address specific health needs identified by the community, engage the community in the development and implementation of programs and provide services to address health disparities.
As a result of this approach, Boston Children’s is able to demonstrate the progress of its program in achieving social impact—improving health and/or quality outcomes, improving wellness and quality of life, proving that community-based models are cost-effective and building community capacity to ensure sustainability.
Program dashboards are Boston Children’s tool for showing the progress of each program in achieving social impact.
Click on each name below for the program dashboard: