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Anne Nearhood and Suzy Berschback hold the plaque awarded to the Beaumont Health Coalition during the national Spirit of Women convention. photo by Ann L. Fouty.

October 24, 2013
Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe received the Excellence in Community Collaboration award at the 16th annual Spirit of Women National executive meeting recently in Las Vegas.

The award recognizes the success of the Beaumont Community Health Coalition's establishment addressing health issues of the community.

Spirit of Women is a national organization dedicated to empowering and educating women to seek better health care for themselves and their families. The Spirit of Women National Award focuses on hospitals across the United States that create and implement innovative ways to help improve the health of local communities during an era of health care reform.

The awards presentation took place at a national meeting of 100 hospitals.

The award judging panel included industry consultants, hospital executives, health care editors, wellness coaches, industry writers and representatives from two national advocacy partnership groups.

"This is a community collaboration award," said Suzy Berschback, manager, Beaumont Community Affairs and Advocacy, Beaumont, Grosse Pointe. "It was the efforts of the hospital through the coalition that the award was achieved."

Though little has surfaced about the coalition that meets monthly, it has direct relevance to healthcare.

"I was asked what the coalition was," Berschback said. "It's the future of health care; it's partnering with community at the table. (Asking) What are the community needs? Can we (at the hospital) answer those questions?"

The organization began nearly two years ago with its members representing 30 local nonprofit organizations working together to provide education and information to help the Grosse Pointe community make informed health care choices.

Upon formation, it immediately addressed youth suicide and stress by providing free seminars and experts in the two fields to answer questions from parents and students. Mindful of student's health issues, adult concerns are also on the coalition's agenda. Every three years, Berschback said the coalition will assess changing health needs. Based on community feedback, the coalition immediately plans to present health issues of obesity, diabetes, drugs, asthma and suicide. The kickoff next winter is "60 Days to Health" with Beaumont and the Neighborhood Club taking the lead and will incorporate local partners to incorporate an all-inclusive program.

"All community partners will focus on exercise, information and diet. The Family Center presents a mother and daughter series, with a health expert on the program," Berschback said of the topic still in the formation stages.

"As a member of the coalition, working with Beaumont has been a wonderful experience," says Stu Alderman, executive director, Neighborhood Club. "I truly believe we have made a difference in reaching out to the community to help them make informed choices as it relates to health care and safety."

The Neighborhood Club is but one organization represented at the table once a month where discussion pinpoints health issues, while participants listen to speakers and network. Other organizations include Wayne County Community College District, Services for Older Citizens, Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce, the public schools, Lakeshore YMCA, CARE and LocalMotionGreen@ Ecology Center.

Anne Nearhood, coalition coordinator of an organization that is a referral source for substance abuse treatment, went on to say that the collaboration efforts of the members has been changing due to the health care issues and addressing anybody who receives health care.

Parents will be presented with "Parents who Host Lose the Most," a topic about teenage drinking in the spring to coincide with proms and graduation parties.

Pamphlets explain that if a parent supplies alcohol to children, the adults could face a jail sentence and fines, are open to lawsuits and police officers can take the alcohol, money or property used in committing the offense.

Project Healthy School is another undertaking of the coalition instituted with the University of Michigan and Beaumont showing Pierce Middle School and Harper Woods students, through hands-on activities, how to eat healthier

"It's very engaging," Nearhood said. "Children learn better in an active environment."

"I can't believe how much the coalition has come together," she said. "It takes two years to find the needs and build a group. It has grown from 12 to 30 members and it continues to grow."

"This is my community," Berschback said. "I live and work in this community and it's especially rewarding to see first-hand how the coalition and Beaumont are making a difference."

There is a wealth of resources in the community to tap and build more partnerships.

"It's not just a Beaumont or a CARE piece, everyone has a piece of the coalition," she said.

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