Checkouts and Checkups

Partnership for community wellness

The third Monday of every month, customers cross the parking lot at Beatties Ford Road Regional Library. Instead of getting into cars, they’re taking care of their health.

Since September, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has partnered with ONE Charlotte Health Alliance (OCHA) to bring health screenings to underserved communities. A mobile health unit containing two exam rooms staffed by community health professionals, nurses and nurse practitioners makes monthly stops at four Library locations. Hannah Terrell is the branch leader at Beatties Ford Road. “Our customers can get a health screening where they already are – they don’t need a ride, don’t need to change anything – no excuses.”

Martha Yesowitch, the Library’s community partnerships leader, explains “Partnerships are one of the foundations of the Library’s programming framework, and an important goal is to use partnerships to remove barriers for residents with specific needs – in this case, connecting residents who are underinsured or don’t have a doctor with the expertise and referrals they need. This partnership expands the Library’s role as a place for people to convene and get the information they need.”

In the first four months of service, over 100 patients have been seen at Library locations for health screening exams, 28 have been connected to a primary care physician, and 46 received referrals to additional services, including referrals to brick and mortar food pantries and a new mobile food pantry – “Pharmacyfood” – provided by OCHA and Loaves & Fishes. And foot traffic across parking lots is picking up as word spreads.

The goal of ONE Charlotte Health Alliance is to work together for a healthier community – and working together is the key. In 2016 community leaders – including executives from Atrium Health and Novant Health – came together to explore ways to remove barriers to health care in Mecklenburg County. Typically competitors, Atrium and Novant committed to a partnership with Mecklenburg County Health Department and other organizations for the health of our community.

The group began by listening. Cristina Todd, a consultant working with ONE Charlotte Health Alliance, recalls “We’re working with generational challenges, and there’s no quick fix. We were very intentional and deliberate about finding out what wellness means to the community.” What they heard led to the mobile health units. “We learned that we have to be where the people who need this service are, to provide a continuum of care. We also need to keep an engagement loop open so we can be flexible and responsive as needs shift.”

Latoya Mallard serves as the full-time project manager for OCHA, and she reached out to Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in hopes of reaching residents in targeted neighborhoods. The Library welcomed the partnership. “This is really about building a relationship with the community to ensure residents have access to the resources they need,” Mallard explains. “The Library partnership is a great example of working strategically with other organizations to reach more people and help them achieve their wellness goals.”

Library customers are appreciative of the partnership. Hannah Terrell smiles, “All we hear is ‘thank you’ at Beatties Ford Road Library!”

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the mobile health unit schedule is temporarily suspended. Check the ONE Charlotte Health Alliance website at the link below for scheduling updates.

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