The Growth Channel

Benefit and brand: Building 'the healthiest community in Florida'

by Emily Zuehlke

Whether community partnerships promote population health, market to a specific demographic, or streamline bundled payments, creating and fostering these relationships challenges many members. As Michelle Mejia, AVP at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, can attest, however, strong community partnerships can reap enormous support for providers’ strategic objectives.

Mejia is the executive leading Healthy West Kendall, a community-wide initiative that counts on the collaborative effort between the hospital and nearly 50 community partners to create “the healthiest community in Florida.” She recently shared the success factors that make this partnership a household name to the 300,000 people it serves. 

1. Make the partnership mutually beneficial for organizations and their executives

When West Kendall Baptist Hospital’s CHNA inspired them to try creating the healthiest community in their state, the hospital leadership knew the goal was too daunting for the hospital alone. Instead, they approached the strategic initiative by personally inviting local business owners, government officials, and school representatives to help steer the Healthy West Kendall Advisory Board.

Regular brainstorming lunches with the hospital CEO facilitate networking between these partners, and sponsorship and endorsement opportunities promote partners’ names around the community. The hospital benefits by gaining access to patients’ attention outside of clinical settings.

2. Brand with full force

The partnership deployed the “Healthy West Kendall” brand to elevate its visibility, unify partners’ initiatives, and surround patients with health-based messaging. The name “Healthy West Kendall” will soon adorn the front windows of schools, restaurants, car dealerships, government buildings, big box retail stores, and even homes. It is stamped across t-shirts and associated with events sponsored by partners, such as a community Easter Egg hunt, the standing-room-only “Love Your Body” night, and the Halloween block party, which draws 8,000 participants every year.

Partners further build brand identity by hosting screening events on site and wellness-based service projects for their employees and by tracking employee participation in Healthy West Kendall events. Some partner with the hospital to develop employee wellness programs. The partnership will soon launch a Health Hub in the hospital lobby, where residents can stop by to conduct free self-screenings and learn about heart disease, and it expects to expand the hub program into local businesses.

Check out these resources on community engagement and wellness programs for more insights on how to build or amplify your own community programs: