By Maria Ferraro
Over the course of the next three years, Passavant Hospital is launching the Healthy Jacksonville Initiative. It’s a total team effort, led by a steering committee and organized by Christina Rollins, affiliate vice president of Passavant Hospital. Rollins says their goal is, “to fill that connection between the needs of the community and what resources we have available.” To date, they are moving towards that goal.
Connected to Jacksonville through the Memorial Health system, Christina Rollins is a wife and mother of two children, a registered dietitian and someone who has worked in the healthcare system since 2005, she joined Passavant in 2017. She shares, “I elected to transfer positions and accept a new opportunity here in Jacksonville … I was excited for the opportunity to join the team.” In addition, she smiled when she added, “I love this area and love the community that we live in.”
Originally from central Illinois, she received her undergraduate from Eastern Illinois University. Working in direct patient care as a clinical dietitian from 2005-2014, most of her time was spent working in the medical ICU, with patients in the burn unit. Since then, she has held various leadership roles, including being promoted to Department Director, before transferring to Passavant in 2017. She served as Director of quality, safety, and compliance until June of 2018, when she became the affiliate Vice President responsible for the Emergency Department and other operational areas at Passavant.
Now Rollins is organizing the Healthy Jacksonville Initiative and serving as the project lead to get the program off the ground. She stated, “This program is being led by the steering committee, which is an inner group comprised of individuals from Passavant, MacMurray College, SIU School of Medicine and Memorial Health System.” The steering committee was launched late spring of 2018, and since then, they have met every milestone they set for the project – an impressive report! Rollins stated, “We’ve come up with a 3-year plan for this program. Our goals for year 1 are pretty basic.” Rollins added. “We are fortunate that the Passavant foundation has elected to fully fund the first year of the program. We’re very grateful for their support.”
As stated before, the main goal in this initiative is to, “fill that connection between the needs of the community and what resources we have available.” There are many strong healthcare providers in the community, including Passavant. Rollins added, “There are a lot of other individuals in the area who are doing great work and we really hope that folks who reside in the community will take full advantage of what we have offered. The main goal is to build a support system to connect those social service providers with the folks who live in the community.” So, thanks to a generous grant from the Passavant foundation, they are well on their way to achieving their goals of improving people’s access to care.
Although this is the first time Passavant has taken on a project like this, they are not on entirely uncharted waters. Memorial Medical Center, in collaboration with SIU School of Medicine and St. John’s Hospital, launched a program three years ago called the Enos Park Initiative, which Passavant has used as the framework for their program. As Rollins put it, “Every community is different. So, we weren’t able to simply carbon copy it into the Jacksonville area, but we have been engaged with the folks that launched that program, just to find out what worked well, if they could go back and do anything differently, etc. With that information, we can build our program to be even stronger.” Although not personally involved in the Enos Park Initiative, Rollins said, “I was fortunate to know some of the people who were. We can learn from the great work that they have already done.”
One reason for the launch of this initiative is to reduce the amount of “reactive care” that goes on at Passavant. Rollins said. “We think there is an opportunity to intervene earlier on [with patients’], thus becoming more of a proactive healthcare organization, where we work with individuals to achieve health so that they ideally do not become sick to the point where they need to come into the hospital to receive care.”
One of the steps Memorial Health has taken to “proactive healthcare” has been opening a virtual care clinic through which patients can receive health care via the internet. By exchanging with a nurse practitioner, patients can get assessed, diagnosed and receive certain prescriptions, without going to the hospital.” Rollins added, “a lot of folks come in [to the hospital] who would benefit from care in a physician’s office, walk-in clinic location, or even virtual care.”
Through a community health needs assessment, Rollins shared the findings that “many individuals seek care in the emergency department when they could receive it more effectively elsewhere.” Rollins added, “We are happy to treat them when they walk in the door, but we want to help them understand their options, so they can seek care that is most appropriate.” Through showing people their options and guiding them to the best mode of care, the cost is lower for the patient and hospital. Rollins concluded, “With that approach, improve our utilization for other patients who do require urgent care. So we are not clogging up the system with people who could seek care in other locations.”
Although still in the early process of launching, Rollins added, “We’re also looking in year one to build and lodge a community health worker program, where we will have two individuals who will be hired as employees of Passavant. These individuals will actually work with our community and work with our social service providers to find out where people need help, and then figure out ways we can help them.”
In preparation to recruit community health workers to work with the community to help them with their services, they expect to start hiring October 1.
Rollins concluded, “The mission of the health system of Passavant is to improve the health of the people and communities we serve. … [With this initiative, we want to] move past that reactive healthcare to really improving the health and looking at all the different social determinates of health that impact the community.” Looking forward, Rollins stated, “I’m feeling very positive. We are making strong connections within the community and I think we are connecting with the right individuals who can help us along the way. So far, it’s going very well.”