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Social factors often play a large role in health. For example, if an individual is lacking stable housing, proper nutrition, transportation to medical appointments, or understanding of their diagnosis, existing health conditions will only get worse, even if medical care is available. In 2014, UNC created its Community Health Department as a bridge to connect health care and social services, with the goal of improving health outcomes for at-risk individuals.
In order to confront these social determinants of health, an interdisciplinary team of Community Health Navigators provide individualized care coordination and advocacy to individuals in need. Through these supportive services, the navigators work directly with clients to assist them in accessing quality and affordable healthcare and to empower the client to take an active role in their own health and management of their conditions. These services are provided at no cost to participants and have quickly proven to be effective in improving the health of clients. The team of navigators also facilitate health education, outreach, and screening events within the community.
In an effort to continue treating the consumer holistically, the team also consists of licensed clinical social workers to address the mental and behavioral health barriers that our consumers often face. Individual counseling appointments are available for issues including but not limited to depression, anxiety, grief, substance use, trauma, relationship issues, and life transitions. In addition to psychotherapy, social workers support their clients in utilizing resources such as rehabilitation, support groups, or medication management as well as connect them with any social needs they may have, i.e. food, clothing, housing, prescription assistance, etc.
Another Community Health service line is the offering of several evidence-based programs including the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), which uses trained peer health educators to support individuals with chronic diseases on how to better manage their illness. Other evidence-based programs available focus on Arthritis, Diabetes, smoking cessation, and chronic pain.
For more information, contact UNC’s Director of Community Health and Aging, Sarah Bodnar, at 570-346-6203 x111.