At Christiana Care, we understand the importance of involving our community and partnering with the neighbors we serve to help steer the direction and execution of our research efforts. Community engagement is an integral component in several of our projects. In some of our largest and most ambitious projects, the community is not only a key component – it is our fulcrum.

Community members play a vital, active role in many Christiana Care patient-centered, population-health initiatives, such as the Latina promotoras we train to further community health initiatives within the Hispanic community, or the Blood Pressure Ambassadors we train to deliver hypertension screening and education within their neighborhoods.

Other community engagement initiatives include the evaluation and expansion plan of the Safe Steps Community Fall Prevention Program; the partnerships with patients to help them understand effective and innovative therapies that enable them to survive and avoid relapses of bacterial infections such as Clostridium difficile; and the development of a Sepsis Survivors Network – the first step in further understanding the life experiences and health outcomes for sepsis survivors, from their experience during their hospital stays to their quality of life after leaving the hospital.

As we look to the future, we will con­tinue to work toward new, meaningful ways to incorporate patients’ voices into the ways we research, evaluate and deliver health care.

Community-Based Blood Pressure Ambassador Program

The Value Institute provides research support for Christiana Care’s innovative Blood Pressure Ambassador Program, a community outreach effort designed to address high rates of hypertension within the local African-American community. The program, which has reached more than 2,000 residents since its inception in 2011, recruits and trains people to work as ambassadors within their communities, taking blood pressure readings, educating people about hypertension and encouraging regular follow-up with a primary care physician.

Collecting data on the reach and efficacy of the program required outreach by researchers as well, to build relationships with the churches, clinics and other community locations where screenings take place. Data analyzed for a 2016 research conference presentation found the program reached almost 1,000 people in a six-month period. Sixty-two percent were African American, and of those more than one-third were hypertensive, but a significant number were not taking medication for the condition.

The Value Institute now is studying ways to further engage the Blood Pressure Ambassadors to enhance program sustainability, improve community access to health care and connect the impact of the program to participants’ clinical results.