Palm Beach County Health Leaders Convene to Advance Resident-Led Initiatives
West Palm Beach, FL – Sixty-five community leaders focused on improving the health and wellbeing of Palm Beach County residents came together on June 22, 2019 at the United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach to generate new ideas and approaches to some of the community’s greatest health challenges. The event was hosted by Healthier Together, a Palm Health Foundation resident-led approach designed to solve the county’s most complex health issues, and BeWellPBC, a new behavioral health initiative engaging residents, systems and sectors in meaningful ways to address the community’s behavioral health needs.
The learning session marked a five-year milestone since Palm Health Foundation launched its first Healthier Together communities in Delray Beach and Jupiter. Today, there are an additional four Healthier Together communities in Lake Worth, Riviera Beach/North West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Belle Glade. The foundation is investing $1 million in each community to make lasting, sustainable impact around some of the most complex health-related issues affecting residents, including diabetes, caregiving and behavioral health.
Sylvia Cheuy of Canada’s Tamarack Institute facilitated the learning session, encouraging the leaders and supporters of all six Healthier Together communities and BeWellPBC to share learning and successes to-date and seek opportunities to support one another in their shared movement of change. Both initiatives take a unique approach that places a heavy emphasis on engaging and listening to residents to design services and solutions that will benefit their neighborhoods most.
“Healthier Together was designed from the very beginning to turn our health system on its head by starting with the resident at the core and building solutions around their needs rather than force-fitting a system that doesn’t always work for them,” said Abigail Goodwin, vice president of grants and community investments from Palm Health Foundation. “We’re at a point where we want to share our learning about how a grassroots approach can have greater impact when we listen to the voice of the community and deliver services that respect their culture and values.”
One example is delivering Mental Health First Aid training to leaders within Delray Beach’s churches in the neighborhood known as “The Set,” the city’s historically black community. Pastors and other church leaders, who often play an important role in the lives of their parishioners, were taught how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
For Lauren Zuchman, executive director of BeWellPBC and the former executive director of Healthier Delray Beach, the opportunity to build on the lessons learned from Healthier Together is invaluable to the county-wide effort to create a more resident-focused behavioral health system. “Creating better synergies and becoming more responsive to the needs of residents is particularly important for behavioral health because of the lack of access to resources for all,” said Zuchman. “Everyone here today believes that we can do better for our children, families and neighbors by coming together to create more responsive, impactful systems with the voice of community leading the way.”
About Palm Health Foundation
Palm Health Foundation is Palm Beach County’s community foundation for health. With the support of donors and a focus on results, the foundation builds strong community partnerships, respects diverse opinions, advocates for its most vulnerable neighbors and inspires innovative solutions to lead change for better health now and for generations to come. The foundation supports health equity for Palm Beach County residents of all backgrounds, heritage, education, incomes and states of well-being. Palm Health Foundation has invested more than $78 million in Palm Beach County health since 2001. For more information about Palm Health Foundation, visit palmhealthfoundation.org or call (561) 833-6333.