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New Ulm Medical Center

Removing roadblocks to good health

By meeting with leaders throughout the New Ulm community, the staff of the New Ulm Medical Center hopes to improve health and services for everyone

There is one thing most members of any community can agree on: The health of the community is a major priority.

Realizing that good health is best achieved when working together as a group, the staff at the New Ulm Medical Center has begun meeting with community leaders across New Ulm to discuss ways that they can work together to improve the community’s well-being.

A Community-Wide Effort

Steve Schneider, director of operations for New Ulm Medical Center, is heading up this campaign. The meetings began this summer and will continue through the fall. Schneider said that New Ulm is seeking input from representatives of various organizations, agencies and providers “who have an interest in the health status of our community.” Examples include long-term care providers and representatives from senior services, public health, social services, veteran services, city government and schools, as well as dentists and other specialists. The medical center staff has also met with a few large employers.

Finding Common Health Goals

Of course, improving the health of an entire community is a complicated project. Specifically, the medical center leaders are hoping to better understand what resources exist in the community for health promotion or services for those who are ill or disabled. They plan to identify gaps in services or community needs, and find opportunities to collaborate with other agencies and organizations to improve health promotion and prevention and provide a “more efficient and effective delivery of health care,” said Schneider.

Recognizing the Challenges

Of course, there are undeniably some roadblocks that stand in the way of whole-community health. Schneider said another purpose of these meetings is to identify and inform community leaders of what these challenges are. Then they can work together and look for common ground in improving everyone’s health.

The health status of a community isn’t just the result of health services, said Schneider.

“While access to quality and affordable healthcare services is one of those factors, this alone will not result in optimal health for our residents,” he said. “Health behavior, such as tobacco and alcohol use, drug use, diet and exercise will impact one’s health. The physical environment we live and work in also plays a role, such as workforce safety practices and air and water quality.” And whether residents have jobs, health insurance, affordable housing, and access to quality education — the social and economic status of a community, in other words — is another key factor.

Working together to change unhealthy lifestyles, increase access to safe air and water, improve workplace safety, and promote disease prevention and good healthcare access community-wide is a tall order. But that’s exactly what this collaboration is intended to do. New Ulm Medical Center, said Schneider, “is committed to working together with other key community agencies and organizations to achieve improved health for our residents and improved coordination of health care services.”