July 11, 2013 -- The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) will receive today a national award for its community health assessments of disadvantaged Houston neighborhoods.
HDHHS’ Assessment, Intervention and Mobilization (AIM) initiative is one of only 38 public health projects across the country that the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) will recognize tonight with a Model Practice Award. The award honors health departments that set up exemplary programs other cities can replicate or adapt to address a public health need.
The community assessments help HDHHS evaluate and improve the ability of residents to manage their health and well-being. They also help link residents to needed health care and human services.
HDHHS has conducted health assessments of nine Super Neighborhoods since 2006. During the assessments HDHHS employees block walk the neighborhoods for three or four days and visit as many as 9,000 homes.
“We have seen the positive impact, both in the communities we have served and within our staff,” said Faith Foreman, an assistant director at HDHHS. “This award is an important way of sharing our methods and outcomes with other health departments that may want to implement AIM in their own communities.”
The AIM initiative is now part of an online, searchable database of successful public health practices in areas ranging from immunization and maternal and child health to infectious diseases and emergency preparedness. The NACCHO Model Practice database allows users to benefit from colleagues' experiences, learn what works and ensure resources are used wisely on effective programs.
HDHHS also uses the assessments to help improve communication between residents of Houston neighborhoods and agencies and decision-makers who can respond to concerns and boost coordination efforts to address public health needs. Additionally, the assessments help HDHHS obtain statistical information to determine a community’s health status and needs and improve its staff’s readiness to respond to natural or man-made disasters.
Super Neighborhoods where HDHHS conducted assessments are Westwood, South Park, Acres Homes, Fifth Ward, Near Northside, Sunnyside, Independence Heights, Magnolia Park and the Tri-Community of Clinton Park, Fidelity and Clinton View.
This is the second year in a row NACCHO honors HDHHS with an award. HDHHS last year received a model practice award for establishing community gardens and farmers markets in underserved, inner-city neighborhoods.
NACCHO represents the nation's 2,800 local governmental health departments. The city, county, metropolitan, district and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities.