This 501-C non-profit has a leadership shared among the various interest groups, but is spearheaded by Stanislaus County’s Chief Executive Office – Economic Development staff. The task force began by collecting data to assess community needs and trends relative to healthcare. What the task force found was that population growth in the area has significantly increased the need for expanded medical services, however the closest emergency room and specialty/ancillary care treatment centers are approximately thirty-five minutes travel time via automobile. The task force evaluated whether a local hospital would be feasible. Unfortunately, the population of the West Side fell below the threshold necessary for a new hospital.
The task force was not deterred, in fact this obstacle only served to validate the need for a collaborative grass roots effort to improve the health of this community. In August of 2009 the task force implemented a multi-year community education campaign called “Healthier Choices for OUR West Side.” The Choices campaign has been designed with a three-prong outreach targeting business, education, and the community.
This grass roots Healthy Choices campaign includes several core outreach initiatives:
- Technologies (e-newsletters to business/education/community)
- Media outreach (youth in education contest activities K-12)
- A community baseline survey
- Strong partnerships with local policy makers and the press/media
The project goals are very straightforward: to promote healthy life style choices, activities, information sharing, and opportunities with the citizens of the west side of Stanislaus and Merced counties and through this communications effort - effect positive life style changes among residents.