TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Caroline Ford, MPH, is the newly appointed executive director of the Wellness Neighborhood for Tahoe Forest Health System. She has more than 30 years of experience in rural and frontier health issues.
Ford was instrumental in crafting many state authorized health programs in Nevada, including the Nevada Health Service Corps, the Medical Education Council of Nevada and the Nevada Area Health Education Center Program. She focused on programs addressing medically underserved populations. Her body of work has spanned national and state development of health policy, especially the critical health system issues of isolated populations and health workforce development. She served for more than 27 years as the director of Nevada’s State Office of Rural Health and is an assistant dean emerita of rural and frontier health at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. She is also president of the National Center for Frontier Communities.
The Wellness Neighborhood is a community outreach initiative created by Tahoe Forest Health System to address community health needs identified in an assessment, conducted in partnership with key area agencies, social service representatives and community members.
The purpose of the assessment was to gather current statistics and feedback on the key health issues facing full-time residents living within the hospital district. Through the needs assessment process, five issues were identified as health priorities. The issues were prioritized based on seriousness of the issue as well as the ability for the community to make an impact at improving the condition.
One area of need is primary prevention, with the goal of adequate primary care for everyone. The Wellness Neighborhood will work in coordination with the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District to improve student nutrition and fitness with the BFit and Nutrition Coalition programs, and offer a high school alcohol education program. Emphasis will also be placed on immunization programs for children and education for childcare providers.
A second area of need was chronic disease management; the goal being to reduce substance abuse and increase community care through outreach.
A third area of need was dental care. The Cavity Free at Three program was developed to address this need and will include training for pediatric providers.
A fourth area of need was in mental and behavioral health, and resources are being made available to enhance mental health services, screening, intervention, referrals to treatment, crisis counseling and improved drug and alcohol abuse programs.
The fifth goal of the Wellness Neighborhood will be to address ethnic disparities in the community by developing a Latino Community Health Program.
The Wellness Neighborhood was created to provide a framework to engage the community to identify, develop and prioritize health programs that will have the most impact on community health.
For more information about Tahoe Forest Health System visit www.tfhd.com.