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County Executive Calvin Ball Launches Innovative WE CARE Initiative

County Executive Calvin Ball Launches Innovative WE CARE Initiative

February 11, 2020

Media Contact:
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

The County’s innovative WE CARE Initiative is intended to reduce emergency department transfers for frequent 911 callers
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball launched the WE CARE Initiative today in partnership with the Howard County Health Department and the Department of Community Resources and Services (DCRS). WE CARE stands for Wellbeing Education by Community Advocates Right in your Environment and will provide classes and programming for residents who have frequently used the emergency department for healthcare services. The initiative will be focused on the Park View Columbia apartment complex residents who have been identified as frequent and high-risk health individuals. Photos from the event can be found here. Video can be found here
“This initiative is an important step in removing barriers to care and providing resources directly to residents who need it the most, ensuring they are healthy and thriving,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “WE CARE will not only reduce emergency room visits, but also educate individuals on how to manage chronic conditions, manage pain, and improve nutrition – all critical resources necessary to improve our resident’s quality of life.”
Howard County Health Department (HCHD) conducted a needs assessment survey of the residents to identify health issues and to determine needs for health education and/or service programs. Based on survey results, residents identified needs for education on nutrition and healthy eating habits, and resources for coping with sadness and loneliness, improving strength/balance, and managing pain. HCHD’s WE CARE initiative will provide evidence-based programs, in coordination with HCGH and DCRS, at the Park View locations to improve resident health in identified needs.
“Public health is increasingly dependent upon meeting the needs of social determinants like transportation, language and health literacy,” said Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman. “The WE CARE initiative is a first step in using data to locate areas of the County where residents require access to increased health services and community programs. Now, we are able to meet these individuals where they live and speak to them in their language to educate and empower them to manage their health and reduce the need for emergency services.”

The initiative will train and employ lay community advocates, representing Korean, Chinese, Persian, and Russian populations at Park View, to deliver care coordination and trusted support for this resident group. Onsite programs began in January 2020.

“As we continue to prioritize the health and wellbeing of all residents in Howard County, this initiative empowers community members to seek and receive important healthcare resources right at home,” said Christiana Rigby, District 3 Councilmember. “By providing greater access to these services, the WE CARE initiative will strengthen community resiliency and help Howard County residents live longer, healthier, and happier lives.”

“This initiative provides us with the opportunity to serve the community through targeted interventions that will empower residents to take charge of their health and well-being,” said DCRS Director Jacqueline R. Scott. “We are excited about being a part of this public-private partnership to holistically address the needs of our residents, increase social connectedness, and improve overall health outcomes.”

“We see the value of this initiative to help keep Howard County residents healthy at home and out of hospital,” said Steve Snelgrove, Howard County General Hospital President. “We’re excited to leverage the work of our member care support network to provide training to the care ambassadors. Overall, this partnership is exactly what hospitals need to be doing with county government.”