How a rural community health network saved a hospital from closure
- by admin
The community health system at Woodstock College was struggling to keep its doors open, but it’s one of a growing number of rural communities that are working to rebuild their networks.
On the campus of Woodstock Community College, a community health hub, volunteers and administrators are meeting with families and patients in their communities, working with hospitals to improve their health systems.
“There’s been a lot of change since I’ve been here, and we’re still seeing a lot in terms of community-based healthcare,” says Krista Erskine-Smith, director of community health at Woodworth.
She says the system has made significant strides, but she says it still has a ways to go.
“When I first got here, we didn’t have a centralized system,” she says.
“We didn’t know how to call for people, how to get referrals, how do we manage a community-wide network.”
Erskines-Smith says Woodstock’s network is a big reason why the college is so popular, especially among younger adults.
“People who are in their 20s and 30s, they’re really excited about having community health, having community resources,” she said.
“It’s a great way to connect with friends and family.”
For more than three decades, Woodstock has been home to the University of California-Davis, which has one of the most comprehensive health systems in the United States.
It’s an institution that has been transformed by the work of community volunteers.
The community’s network of volunteer health providers provides healthcare for hundreds of thousands of people in the San Diego area, including nearly 1.3 million students, according to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.
But the college also faces significant challenges.
“For us, the big challenge has always been that our health system is one-stop shopping,” Ers, who has been at Woodsy for nine years, said.
Ersky says Woodsy has become a model for how a community can work together to provide health care to its residents.
“I think it’s the most collaborative system that we have,” she explained.
“What we’re really seeing in Woodstock is this sense of collaboration.”
The network has created an amazing opportunity for the community to be more resilient, she says, noting that the network has been able to get to a point where there’s a little more trust between the community and its health systems, which is what Woodsy is aiming to achieve.
“This is what we’re going to do, and it’s what we’ll do for a long time to come,” Eerskine said.
“I think Woodstock would have been better off without community health care.”
The Woodsy community is not alone in having success in creating a health network that is both safe and sustainable.
More than 100 community health hubs are popping up across the country, from the community college at Northern Kentucky University in Bowling Green to community health centers at colleges and universities in North Carolina and Georgia.
“They’re all doing this because they have to,” says Ers.
“Community health is the last thing you want to be a part of.”
To keep Woodsy’s network thriving, Ers and her team are working closely with other local health agencies.
“The community needs to take care of each other, and they need to take action to get healthier,” she added.
Ericks has been an administrator for Woodsy since January 2018.
She has worked to improve the community’s medical and community health systems and ensure that the system is accessible to students and families, both by creating and improving communication systems.
Woodsy recently hired an outside consultant to help improve the health system.
Ers is also working with Woodsy to create an integrated approach to addressing its problems, including the need for community-led partnerships with healthcare providers.
“We want to make sure that when we need community health in our community, we know where we can find it,” she told Mashable.
“That’s what’s going to keep us going.”
The community health system at Woodstock College was struggling to keep its doors open, but it’s one of a growing…