The Quality Institute partners with the Cumberland County Department of Health and Inspira Health Network through a three-year partnership grant from the United Health Foundation to improve chronic disease management, health literacy, and access to healthy lifestyle initiatives. Inspira Health Network is a Provider Council member of the Quality Institute.
Current Cumberland County Mayors involved in this initiative are Vineland Mayor Ruben Bermudez and Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly. Megan Sheppard, Director and Health Officer for the Cumberland County Board of Health, sat down with Symptoms & Cures to talk about a key part of the initiative.
Can you tell us about the Cumberland/Salem/Gloucester Health and Wellness Alliance and how the Alliance began working with the Quality Institute’s Mayors Wellness Campaign?
The Alliance was formed in 2010 to work on improving the health of people in the area. We’re comprised of community-based organizations, including Inspira Health Network. The Quality Institute offered to work with us in Cumberland County to help further our work through a grant from the United Health Foundation. The goals of this grant are to address chronic disease management, improve health literacy, and improve access to healthy lifestyle initiatives in Cumberland County, Trenton, and Jersey City. One exciting part of that support is the development of the Aunt Bertha website for Cumberland County as well as for Jersey City and Trenton.
What is the Aunt Bertha Website?
Aunt Bertha is a search engine that allows residents, as well as those of us in agencies and non-profit organizations, to look up active services in our community and link individuals to those services. The services are wide ranging. They could be in areas of financial assistance, housing, food and nutrition, mental health, and more. When we see a client who has needs, Aunt Bertha helps us connect them with the services that can support them.
Are you finding out about services you did not know were available?
Sometimes. But it’s more about keeping us up to date on what we know we have here in the community. Things are changing all the time, such as the hours and the contacts and phone numbers. And the search tool helps us find out if we are duplicating services.
So, how do you, along with Inspira Health Network and others participating in the Cumberland/Salem/Gloucester Health and Wellness Alliance, plan to harness Aunt Bertha to support members of your community?
Individuals are coming to all of us for various types of help. We may ask them, “Are there any other areas where you need assistance?” Then we can log on to Aunt Bertha and see where we can refer them. Maybe a hospital social worker finds out that someone in the ER needs a place to live. Or a primary care physician finds that a family needs nutritional counseling. We can all use this resource to share information with our clients and actually write out a “prescription” that will be sent to the organization providing the services.
Who do you expect will most likely use Aunt Bertha?
I envision social workers will, but we hope, also, that schools and school counselors will make use of Aunt Bertha. Recently we completed a training program with the Vineland School District — and the school social workers — that went very well. We are conducting train-the-trainer seminars. We are at the beginnings of this and want to make sure people know how to best use the search engine. We know our community and many people do not have access to computers. They have phones, but not always enough data. I see guidance counselors, nurse case managers, and all the non-profits finding value in Aunt Bertha.
Will you be collecting data?
We want to make clear that every person’s privacy is protected. But we will have information on what communities are using Aunt Bertha and what services are being used the most. We will get a picture of our needs. Maybe we will find that some services are not being used that often, or find out that other services are needed more than we thought. The information will be very valuable to us.