Making an impact on care

LaShante Keys

By LaShante Keys, Empath Health Community Partnership Specialist

It is an honor working in partnership with the community. We appreciate all the support.

A big thanks to the many community partners who help us link the African-American community to the care and support they need from the Empath Health integrated network of care. Another huge thanks to every patient, client and family for trusting us to be a part of their lives and care.

I believe trust is one of the most significant barriers with the African-American community obtaining our services. We have focused a lot of our programming on building relationships and trust. Our relationships and events have played a major role in raising awareness about the services of Empath Health.

Our Gospel Health Breakfast is a great partnership with the community and Empath Health members; each year, we have seen an increase in attendance.

Last year we welcomed 55 men to our first African-American Men’s Health Forum, and we hope to do another. Our Care Council, which started in St. Petersburg, has expanded and is making strides into mid-Pinellas and north Pinellas County.

We have new partnerships with Pinellas County Schools, the Ridgecrest community, the MLK Foundation and the Cole Links Foundation. Our council members are wonderful ambassadors and advocates for sharing information with the community.

Another essential piece of our outreach is providing community presentations at churches, recreation centers, schools and more. We present an overview of what Empath Heath and Suncoast Hospice offer.

Additional presentations on music therapy, volunteer opportunities or other services may be requested.

The number one presentation that I do is on our Suncoast PACE all-inclusive senior care program. The community loves PACE and what it offers. We have been able to provide more presentations on living wills and advance care planning.

A lot of individuals want presentations on our EPIC HIV services and grief counseling. There are many people dealing with grief in the community, and people are starting to take advantage of our services. We also do well with our children’s grief camp. People feel that it is OK to access mental health.

A new area we are looking to develop is a caregiver program, requested by our Care Council. There are a lot of people who do not realize that they are caregivers or need support.

Doing this work in the community has impacted my life. I enjoy seeing the difference that we make being part of the community’s care. It is rewarding when I see someone who is elderly do a living will and not get taken advantage of, when I get a phone call from a family member who needs to be connected to hospice services or when I get a request from someone who wants to become a volunteer.

We look forward to creating many more meaningful partnerships and collaboration in the years to come. We are excited about what the future holds and thankful for the community trusting Empath Health to be a part of their life care.

To learn more about Empath Health, visit EmpathHealth.org. For more information or to join our Care Council, call (727) 523-3427.

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