Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, thanks to its affiliation with Yale New Haven Health, is investing $50,000 to help improve the quality of health of two selected neighborhoods struggling with poverty and education.
The hospital will choose two of twelve neighborhoods have been targeted based on census data. Ledge Light Health District and L+M completed a Community Health Needs Assessment in 2016 that identified a need to focus on income and educational struggles.
"A doctor can write a prescription and send a patient home with a prescription. But if they live in substandard housing and they can’t afford their medication, their health is not going to be improved," Laurel Holmes, L+M’s director of community partnerships and population health, said.
Holmes said high poverty neighborhoods can be linked to issues like higher rates of diabetes and smoking. The hospital, the city and Ledge Light are turning to the community to help solve the problem by launching a project called "Photo Voice" for young adults between the ages of 14 and 25.
“What do you like most about your neighborhood? What would you like to change about your neighborhood,” said New London’s Director of Human Services Jeanne Milstein, discussing some of the questions these young adults would answer. There’s also a photo component.
Chelsy Theriault, 25, of New London, already has some ideas.
“The bus system is terrible. It takes two hours just to get from here to Norwich,” Theriault said.
Theriault is considering participating in the project, along with 21-year-old Joseph Thompson.
“I think we need a skate park, honesty. I always go downtown and see a bunch of people just drifting through the roads,” Thompson said.
There will be community listening sessions for adults to voice their ideas. Milstein said it’s a way to engage the community to help make their neighborhoods better. Plus, it’s a chance to involve young adults in civic life and train them to be community leaders.
Details and a timeline for this initiative are still being hammered out.