How Washington County Residents Come Together for Community Wellness

Ballad Health, United Way work together to change lives.

By
Julie Young
On Friday, July 31, 2020 - 13:12
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Everyone knows that a healthy life begins with a strong start. When a community is focused on wellness, education and prevention programs, it fosters a sustainable environment where everyone can thrive and grow. With these things in mind, Ballad Health has partnered with the United Way to address the challenges associated with community wellness.

Through the creation of the first Accountable Care Community (ACC), the WE READ program and an online student attendance tool kit, the two organizations are combining resources to promote a healthy population.

Accountable Care Community

According to Paula Masters, vice president of health programs forBallad Health, the ACC focuses on key markers of success, such as strong starts for children, encouraging substance-free families, and training on trauma-informed care for teachers and caregivers.

“Health improvement is at the core of Ballad Health’s mission and vision, and by collaborating with over 200 regional organizations, we can align resources, identify best practices and work collectively so that the solutions coming out of our efforts are community driven,” she says.

John Jeter, CEO of Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, says as part of the merger agreement that formed Ballad Health, the organization made enforceable commitments to the state of Tennessee and Commonwealth of Virginia to improve community wellness, expand access to services and support medical research in order to create a healthier population.

“I don’t believe we could have done any of this without the merger, but by creating the ACC, we are trying to get ahead of problems before they start,” he says.

Reinforcing the Mission

Travis Staton, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Virginia, says the ACC is another way to reinforce their mission to promote the health, education and financial stability of those in the region.

United Way takes a cradle-to-career approach to improve the quality of early experiences for children so they are equipped for success in school and life. Programs that address this mission include United WE READ, which is designed to make sure every child is reading at or above grade level; Vello, a 1:1 tutoring program for guided reading support; and $2,500 Attendance Initiative mini-grants and online toolkits that encourage attendance across 17 school systems.

“The ACC is a proactive model that allows nonprofits to collaborate collectively,” Staton says. “When everyone is rowing in the same direction, it benefits everyone in the region. There are a number of United Way programs that work to achieve the goal of public health, but through the ACC, we can take those practices, scale them and make sure everyone benefits from the outcomes.”

As a member of the ACC’s Leadership Committee, Kathy Waugh is in a unique position to make a positive impact on the lives of residents throughout Washington County.

Waugh is the CEO of the YWCA of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, and, along with representatives from 24 organizations and 150 community stakeholder groups, she is committed to accomplish the objectives that help create a healthy community. From the teen-specific pregnancy-and-parenting class to gender-specific offerings and early educational programs the YWCA knows that the path to lifelong health and vitality starts with an investment in the community.

“After 75 years of operation, sharing our wealth and wisdom through the broader region is the right thing to do,” she says. “Regional partnerships (such as the ACC) allow us to customize program implementation to meet the needs of each unique community.”

If you'd like to learn more about the Washington County area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Washington County