Morning Mix


Healthier Communities program improves access to healthcare

Posted at 11:16 AM, Mar 27, 2017

Spectrum Health not only heals patients in their numerous facilities across West Michigan, they also reach out to people in the community through their Healthier Communities program.

Dr. Ken Fawcett, Vice President of Spectrum Health Healthier Communities, explains how the program works.

The program's purpose is to reach out to members in the community whose access to health care is limited for any reason. Some of their priorities are to help adults prevent or self-manage chronic diseases, improve children's health, and reduce infant mortality.

Dr. Fawcett says a healthy community starts with a healthy population. By breaking down language, transportation and economic barriers, people can get the attention they need before a health problem or illness becomes more serious.

Healthier Communities doesn't work alone in bringing wellness to the community, the following health programs work with Spectrum Health to create a healthier population in West Michigan:

  • Programa Puente- a free program that works within the Latino community and screens adults for diabetes and high blood pressure with the goal of educating the at-risk population on healthy diets and exercise. The entire program is conducted in Spanish.
  • School Health Advocacy Program- puts health care teams in schools, either in person or via our MedNow telemedicine service, so students can stay healthy and engaged in the classroom.
  • Core Health- a free program for adults diagnosed with diabetes or heart failure.
  • Strong Beginnings- works to keep pregnant women and new moms healthy and connects them with needed resources. This program has successfully cut Kent County’s infant mortality rate in half over the last decade.

These programs are run by community health workers, who visit with people involved in the programs to check vital signs, answer questions about diet and medications, provide support and refer people to other services if needed.

Spectrum Health is always looking for volunteers to help keep these programs running and available to everyone in the community. To learn more about these programs or volunteer opportunities, visit