Outreach programs promote community’s health, safety

Outreach programs promote community's health, safety

Michelle Mejia explains West Kendall Baptist Hospital’s outreach.

A trio of speakers associated with local outreach programs urged a West Kendall audience to take advantage of local services designed to improve health and security throughout the area of western Miami-Dade County.

Appearing before the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Hammocks District on Aug. 25, the speakers included Michelle Mejia, assistant vice president, West Kendall Baptist Hospital; Laura Naredo, vice president, South Florida Behavioral Health Network Inc., and Miami-Dade Police Sgt. John Barrow.

“Since our beginning, we have focused on being pro-active in programs to improve the community health throughout an area of 300,000 residents,” said Mejia, who described the newest projects involving citizenry. Among them:

• A Health Hub located in West Kendall Baptist Hospital’s lobby, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a registered nurse to provide basic health screenings; two parking spaces have been reserved for participants.

• A 16-member Innovations Committee of community leaders who meet monthly to discuss methods to extend health awareness throughout business and commercial centers, schools and community organizations.

•An ongoing survey conducted by West Kendall Baptist that participants may access by clicking HealthyWestKendall.com/Survey or telephoning 786-467-3030 for details.

“This is all part of expanding the hospital’s mission far beyond its basic health services to the community,” she emphasized, noting that in coordination with the South Florida Behavioral Network, a recently completed “West Kendall Assessment” that pinpointed increasing numbers of younger aged adults with mental impairments.

A revealing statistic: youth 18-andunder were represented by 1,390 cases receiving mental health services, far outnumbering the next age groups (950 cases among ages 45-64; 656 cases for ages 25- 44; 213 for ages 18-24, and 189 for ages 65-plus).

“It tells us that younger people are more in need of access to services than those of older years,” Naredo said.

The survey is one of several projects that pinpointed vital recommendations, including increase of peer support for youth as well as incorporating more prevention services. The Network is commissioned to monitor all government agency resources for quality and performance.

A Consumer and Family Resource Manual outlining services in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties for people who receive mental health and/or substance abuse services from community agencies is available at: sfbhn.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Consumer-Family-Resource- Manual-English1.pdf.

While health issues occupied those presentations, Sgt. Barrow urged residents to join the newly offered “Nextdoor” private social network, a free program that uses the Miami-Dade Police computer base partnering with a private online network to create direct neighbor-to-neighbor communication, emphasizing security and crime alerts.

“Nextdoor provides instant inter-action with police, particularly in monitoring small areas where Crimewatch may not be in force or too broadly covered to be effective to gain immediate police response,” he said.

A page is included on-site for members to post items of interest to their neighbors while police will post event news, photos of missing people, be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) alerts and other information for specific area.

To begin a new group or join an existing neighborhood site, on the free program, visit nextdoor.com, entering an email and street address with zip code.

For information, call 305-471-1900.

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