The CCPH featured member is long-time CCPH Member and nine-year president & CEO of Healthy Community Partners (formerly Center for Health Professions) in Saginaw, MI, Lisa Hadden. CCPH Membership Development and Marketing Associate, Catherine Immanuel, recently caught up with Lisa to find out why it is so important to "be a neighbor first" and learn about her passion for the work she does, plus much more below!
A: The mission of Healthy Community Partners is unique in that we combine Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) developed by John McKnight and John Kretzman at the Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University with the education of health professionals. As a community based non-profit, we teach third year medical students and baccalaureate and graduate level nursing students the skills of assessing a community from an asset based approach or knowing a community from the inside-out. In other words, we view the community not merely as a consumer of health but as a co-producer of health and emphasize to our students that health professionals are partners with neighbors and community residents in creating and sustaining health.
A: We believe that Asset-Based Community Development offers a unique approach to creating healthy communities. Identifying and mobilizing the local assets and individual capacities harnesses resources to produce health that do not fall within the domain of the institutionalized health care system. We further believe that if we are to teach these community development principles to students then we must live them ourselves. Much of our work engages us with deep grassroots neighborhood associations in community organizing and community and economic development ventures. We then take our knowledge and insights from these activities and apply it to curricula for our students providing them with hands on experiences in our community. It is a continuous circle of learning for all of us.
A: I am absolutely convinced that people's ability to create health and well being for themselves is vast and hugely untapped. Our health care system and health professions education tend to focus primarily on illness and disease. If this is all we assess for, this is all we will find. However, if we pursue what creates and sustains health, we will discover an entirely different picture of a community. If we encourage a community to define health in its own terms, we will find an authentic voice, a powerful voice that provides insights that fall far from our conventional wisdom in the medical model. We need to pay attention to what our communities tell us and build on their self-described assets.
A: We are very pleased with our current partnerships with Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine and Saginaw Valley State University, College of Nursing. The third year medical students and fourth year nursing students participate in our program entitled, Community Defined Healthä. My dream is for students to understand that being a health care practitioner means understanding the principles of ABCD and how they contribute to building a healthy community. Many of our students stay in Saginaw to stay connected to our work in the community so in some ways we are a recruitment and retention program as well. I would like to see more students engaged in this process, perhaps in the fields of social work, public health, economics and community development. I would further like to see health practitioners incorporate ABCD principles into their practice as tools for creating healthy communities.
We are also affiliated with Saint Mary's Hospital in Saginaw, Michigan and are grateful for their support and inviting us to be a partner in neighborhood revitalization for the Cathedral District neighborhood.
A: Be a neighbor first! Build relationships first! Become a social entrepreneur! Build community networks and webs. Building trust is an outcome that takes several years to establish. And while it seems tedious to do this first before placing students, it is crucial to building a rapport with neighbors and community members. This is the raw material of capacity building. Become involved in projects yourself with neighbors, community groups, and grassroots organizations. These open natural opportunities for student placements. Work toward this end first before developing formal curricula for service-learning projects. Communities operate on informal relationships, networks and structures. Learn these first and tweak the student experience to reflect the strengths of these networks, develop the academic structure around these, instead of vice versa.
Secondly, I fully believe most of what keeps people healthy is already out in the community. I have practiced Aikido (The Art of Peace) for many years and it has greatly influenced my thinking about health. A quote by the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, says it all. "It is necessary to develop a strategy that utilizes all the physical conditions and elements that are directly at hand. The best strategy relies upon an unlimited set of responses." If we concentrate only on those strategies coming from the institutionalized system of care, then we cannot respond from all the opportunities that come from the other determinants of health, the community functions, such as individual behaviors, building social support systems, environmental factors, and economic wherewithal. We have not yet tapped all the community responses that create health and well being because they don't fit into our epidemiological toolbox. It is important to dig deeper to find all sources of health.
A: Initially, the biggest challenge was getting a medical school to buy into the concept of students learning about health from the families we connect them to in our neighborhoods and learning through a community development model. The findings from these conversations don't translate directly to the reduction of hypertension or diabetes. But the experience does greatly shift student thinking to re-evaluate how they view a community and they gain insights that make them better practitioners. Additionally, our neighbors have positive interactions with health professionals and learn to articulate their needs and their assets in positive ways that contribute to their healing. Lastly, the greatest challenge to this type of work is more philosophical. There exists a clash between the traditional paradigm of "doing for" service type programs that focus on fulfilling client/patient needs and emptiness. However, we focus on people's capacities and assets, their ability to create their own health. This concept can sometimes be threatening to professionals.
A: I would say continued, blind funding of programs that advance the status quo in health professions education should be revisited. I think the innovation for changing the way health professionals are educated will ultimately come from outside the system. That is not to say we should abolish our accreditation structure, but the government should be proactive and responsive to funding creative and innovative approaches to educating our health professionals in ways that more comprehensively engage the community in discovering its own health. There are many programs and models out there that give us new knowledge about healthy communities that do not originate from residency programs or institutions of higher learning. Universities that are engaged in deep partnerships with communities and invested in new models should be rewarded.
A: I have been a member of CCPH since its inception and believe it offers a much-needed alternative forum for highlighting the state of the art practices in service-learning and innovative partnerships between communities and universities. CCPH provides a voice for new and innovative approaches and makes them accessible to a large audience of practitioners. I am personally grateful to all the support they have provided my organization and me as we consider our work in the pioneering stage with just recent acceptance into more mainstream programming. In earlier years our work was considered heresy in the world of health care practice but I have never received anything but support for my ideas from CCPH.
A: It means simply this: trust and respect for what each party has to offer in creating and sustaining a healthy community. So often we get entangled in process of placing students in situations in the community to satisfy a curricular requirement. Once we get away from this notion and support community initiatives, actions and projects driven by community residents that create health, we will find natural places for student involvement.
A: We are very grassroots and while we have very strong partnerships with several universities, we are a small non-profit trying to find viable funding year to year like so many other non-profit organizations. I will continue to look to CCPH to assist us in finding resources and other partners to help keep our efforts going and to expose us to other programs so that we may learn from others as well. I also find the CCPH staff very helpful, knowledgeable and friendly.
A: I am fortunate to have both experience in community development in my earlier professional years and health care administration in the last twenty years. I spent several years in rural areas managing public health service clinics rolling up my sleeves with the nuts and bolts of daily practice management in underserved areas. I am now in an urban area working with inner-city families and educating health professions students from an asset based community development approach. By combining these two disciplines, many "intersections of knowledge" emerge that produce healthy communities. At Healthy Community Partners we call this the "dynamic juncture." I bring years of experience in this model (its successes and pitfalls) to the table and am happy to share my experiences and insights with other CCPH members.
Lisa Hadden, President and CEO
Lisa's Academic and Community Involvement:
To read about other previous featured members click here.