More than 20 Faith-Based Groups Partner in Twin Counties to Improve Residents’ Health

The Conetoe Family Life Center (CFLC) is expanding its existing partnership with 21 area faith-based groups to offer support to patients in need of additional resources when leaving the hospital. The work is a part of Healthy Places NC, the Trust’s long-term initiative aimed at improving the quality of life and health in rural North Carolina counties.

The landmark collaboration between the CFLC and its faith-based partners, known as its Community Health Model, addresses chronic diseases by increasing access to healthy-living options, and delivering onsite health education, screenings and preventive care. The Trust announced a $289,487 grant to support the faith-based partnership as it works to reduce emergency room visits, increase preventative care visits and identify best practices that others can replicate.

The Center and churches came together to agree that their focus should be on improving the health of the community. All involved congregations agreed to establish a healthy eating program in their churches, as well as one in the communities surrounding their churches. This entails each church planting a garden and using lay health workers to connect church and community members to the resources they need to improve their health. The Center sponsors the lay health training program through the community college, which is now a certified lay health training facility. Trained lay health workers will support patients recently discharged from the hospital as they continue monitoring their blood pressure and taking their medicine, which in turn, will help reduce the number of visits to the emergency room and improve community health overall.

“The goal of our work is to engage and inform the whole community by providing educational programs, nutrition guidance and leadership training,” said Dr. Garrie Moore, Executive Director of Conetoe Family Life Center. “Improving health and wellbeing in a rural, low-wealth community is achievable but requires all of us, on an on-going basis, to take care of each other. I’m grateful for the Trust’s support and eager to continue our work.”

“Through the lay health training program and regular meetings, the various congregations are able to compare notes, talk about what works and what doesn’t work, and focus on the impact their outreach is making,” said Trust Program Officer Aidil Ortiz Hill. “Improving health in rural communities will take more than just the health care sector, and it is inspiring to see the Twin Counties faith community come together to tackle health challenges in a coordinated, thoughtful way.”

The Trust is also supporting CFLC’s youth-focused community garden that exposes young people to healthy, freshly grown fruits and vegetables and offers an alternative to fast food. With the support of the Trust, CFLC will expand its bee program and integrate it into its other educational training programs.

An additional grant awarded by the Trust in the Twin Counties includes:

•    East Carolina Health received a $114,940 grant to convene medical providers interested in sharing data to improve care for patients with the highest need. Led by Vidant Edgecombe Hospital, the partnership also includes the area’s federally qualified health centers, the regional health systems, and the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine.

The Twin Counties joined the Healthy Places NC initiative in early 2015. The Trust will invest $100 million in 10 to 12 rural counties over a 10-year period. To date, the Trust has invited seven counties—Beaufort, Burke, Edgecombe, Halifax, McDowell, Nash and Rockingham—to participate and will announce additional counties in the coming years. In each county, Healthy Places’ work and projects are driven by the community’s concerns and the opportunity for sustainable, long-term change.