A healthy community depends on access to healthy food, education and medical care. To help meet those needs, AdventHealth Shawnee Mission is working with community partners to improve healthcare for two neighborhoods in the Kansas City area.

The plan was inspired by Anna Coridan, RN. A surgical nurse at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, Coridan moved into a neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas, to help refugee families with limited access to resources like healthcare and youth programs. She became friends with a group of youth who decided to create a ministry called NC4Y, New Change for Youth. After several months, the youth ministry became a Pathfinder Club, which is helping young people develop good character traits and learn life skills.

“There are still so many kids on the street,” says Coridan. “Our goal is to help these families adjust to life in this country and to know that they’re not alone.”

Coridan and other Pathfinder staff members, who are also AdventHealth team members, shared the NC4Y story with others at the hospital, including Jeanette Metzler, manager of community benefits at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission. Metzler manages the hospital’s Community Health Needs Assessment and collaborates with other community leaders to improve public health.

As part of the Community Health Needs Assessment Committee, Metzler and the other leaders work to identify health needs in the area by reviewing community surveys, stakeholder surveys, and hospital inpatient and emergency room data. After hearing the NC4Y story, they knew they wanted to look at helping the families in Coridan’s neighborhood.

“We wanted to focus our attention to see what we could do to help people in underserved neighborhoods,” says Metzler. “Anna had built trust with her neighbors, so it made sense to start there and support her in her efforts. By focusing on a small area, we hoped to make a big difference for the residents who live there.”

The committee identified two neighborhoods to improve health resources—Coridan’s neighborhood in Kansas City and another in Shawnee, Kansas. Metzler and the committee talked with school leaders and family service professionals about the issues residents face and how to best serve those needs.

The committee’s first goal is to increase access to healthcare services in those neighborhoods. According to Metzler, about 34 percent of people in the Kansas City neighborhood are uninsured, along with 21 percent of people in the Shawnee neighborhood.

“We want to focus on how to connect people with healthcare and how we can get them set up for health insurance,” says Metzler. “That can mean helping them to get access to health coverage and assuring kids are covered with CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).”

Another goal is to increase access to healthy food for low-income families in the targeted neighborhoods. That can mean increasing participation in food assistance programs through awareness and sign-up opportunities.

“We want to make sure they have access to nutritious foods,” says Metzler. “Obesity can lead to other health issues as well, so it’s important to focus on providing healthy foods like fruits and vegetables rather than processed foods that may be cheaper but aren’t as healthy.”

In addition, Metzler says they’ve started meeting with refugee families in Coridan’s community to learn more about the issues where they need help, whether that’s transportation, education or finding a job. “It ties into the mission of our hospital,” she says. “We want to know how we can best support people so we can improve whole health—body, mind and spirit—throughout our communities.”

For more information about AdventHealth Shawnee Mission’s Community Health Needs Assessment, visit AdventHealthKC.com.