By Olivia Goudy
In an effort to interact with the community on a regular basis, local hospitals have long offered programs, events and support groups.
Whether it’s connecting them with others in the same situation, better informing locals on ailments or equipping them with information or skills, community members can rely on local hospitals to do so. H
“Making a health difference in the lives we touch is more than just our motto, it really is our mission,” said Josh Krysak, manager of community relations at Uniontown Hospital. “To that end, engaging the community in meaningful ways, through the support of community events and hosting support groups, is just another way for us to make that difference.”
One of the more popular offerings at local hospitals is support groups including those for strokes, prostate cancer, ostomy and Alzheimer’s. Support groups offer education and coping mechanisms for not only the individual with an ailment but for their families and friends as well.
Other popular courses include childbirth preparation and labor classes and weight loss surgery information seminars, both of which are offered at Uniontown Hospital.
In addition to a number of support groups, Monongahela Valley Hospital has a program designed to make community members their own health advocates.
“Someone has to be an advocate, so we teach them to be their own or one for a loved one, spouse, child, etc.,” said MVH nurse educator Donna Hatalowich. For the past nine years, the hospital has offered a monthly course called Innovations in Medicine. Each month, a different guest physician covers a topic relating to their specialty, aimed specifically to educate the community.
“If they have the information, they’re much better off,” she said. The more popular topics over the years have included sessions on arthritis, fibromyalgia and orthopedic ailments. Attendance ranges anywhere from 25 to 100. MVH also offers monthly CPR/AED courses for community members and those seeking certification.
“They’re mandatory courses for employees,” Hatalowich said, adding that it’s popular among the general public.
“The community is worth reaching out to,” she added. “Anytime you can make them better informed, the better the opportunity we have to give them what they need, especially when they’re looking to make better decisions.”
“Our patients are friends and family and neighbors and they count on the hospital to not only provide for them in an emergency but to support their best health,” Krysak said. “Through participation in such activities, we are taking an active role in providing for their best health.”
Vicki Meier, director of planning and development at Highlands Hospital in Connellsville, said their mission is to provide “healthcare to the community in a competent, nurturing and healing environment. Our staff gives support in times of crisis and provides the resources necessary to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
Meier added that their vision is to “create a healthier community by transforming care delivery through innovative approaches to health and wellness,” referring to their community initiatives.
Breast cancer support groups are also offered at the hospital, she said.
Those in Washington and Greene counties also have a number of community options through Washington Health System, whether it’s through one of their six support groups or through fundraising events.
According to Stephanie Wagoner, manager of marketing and community relations with Washington Health System, a number of new events are offered this month as WHS partners with the American Heart Association to plan “GO RED events.”
“Our goal for the GO RED community events include health education, a little bit of fundraising for the AHA and also a chance for us to communicate and engage with our community,” Wagoner said. One such event is a Zumbathon on Feb. 23, which is open to the public.
“They normally have about 60 to 80 people in their gym,” Wagoner wrote. “The atmosphere is awesome, and you are so pumped to be working out for a cause.”
A detailed list of events, courses and support groups for area hospitals and organizations can be found in the weekly health section of the HeraldStandard or online at heraldstandard .com.