BHealthy Blog

Taking the Baptist Health Mission Beyond Hospital Walls

Community outreach is an important part of the Baptist Health 2020 Strategic Plan because serving more Arkansans, improving the health of communities, partnering with community organizations, and expanding the healing ministry are important components of delivering on Baptist Health’s mission and belief. And thanks to the Community Outreach department, Baptist Health has made a real difference in the lives of people in the community, including underserved populations in need who have nothing to give in return. Among its many duties, the Community Outreach team offers non-emergent health-care services that many people would not have access to otherwise. Their efforts have been literally life saving to many who were unaware they had a serious condition. Community Outreach provides a diverse and lengthy list of free health-care services, health education and awareness programs, risk-factor identification and screenings, healthy-living activities, nutrition for students, and collaboration with many organizations and worthwhile causes. The incredible number of programs for children and youths, community coalitions, community education, support groups, community wellness centers, free health screenings and health fairs, school initiatives, sponsorships, and in-kind donations that the Community Outreach team has been involved in recently is so lengthy that the list would take up nearly an entire page in The Connection. There are many barriers to health care that people in the community face for a variety of reasons –– and the Community Outreach team is passionate about helping people overcome those barriers in pursuit of a healthy life. One of the team’s most noble efforts is the outreach to the homeless population in central Arkansas. Baptist Health now holds two monthly clinics targeting the homeless through partnerships with the Mosaic Church on Colonel Glenn Road and Stewpot at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Little Rock. That same compassionate care is a regular occurrence at all of the Baptist Health wellness centers as well. While some people will come in simply for a blood-pressure check, others have complex chronic diseases such as diabetes and congestive heart failure. A big population-health initiative the Community Outreach team continues to undertake through a partnership with a grant from Verizon is an innovative program managing Type 2 diabetes. The free program provides participants with a blood-pressure machine, glucometer, pedometer, and testing supplies in addition to regular diabetes education and video conferencing –– plus some participants receive a wireless tablet providing advanced technology to help. But besides the program with Verizon, diabetes education has always been a big part of the Community Outreach team’s work to reduce complications, identify those at risk, and provide them with education and referrals. And the Baptist Health Community Wellness Centers provide that free of charge. A number of the wellness centers have even provided extended hours to make health care more accessible for those who have difficulty leaving a job during the day. As part of the strategy to address infant mortality, Community Outreach’s holds prenatal classes at Heaven’s Loft, Liberty Hill Baptist Church, and North Little Rock High School. Another of Community Outreach’s initiatives is the back-to-school immunization program, which provides free shots to kids in need to improve the overall health of children in the community and aid families with primary and secondary immunization requirements in order to decrease exposure to disease and school expulsion rates due to noncompliance. During the immunization program, students are provided with a backpack filled with school supplies, and 2,000 of those backpacks were provided in central Arkansas in 2016. Baptist Health has also had a long-time association with Keith Jackson’s P.A.R.K. (Positive Atmospheres Reaches Kids) program by providing healthy meals and snacks for kids in the program as well as health education. Providing healthy meals during the summer and nutritious snacks during the school year for children who sometimes do not have enough to eat at home ensures they are eating healthy and have a better chance to succeed, and it allows that much more money for P.A.R.K. to spend on college scholarships for graduates of the program. Thanks to all the efforts of Community Outreach, Baptist Health is rated by Arkansans as doing more than any other hospital organization in serving the health needs of the community outside the hospital walls, according to the National Research Corporation. The Community Outreach team’s full-time staff consists of Teresa Conner (director), Leititia Bailey (health program coordinator), Cheryl Johnson (community education nurse manager), Wendy Byrd (diabetes patient educator), Kenley Throgmartin (community education nurse), and Kellye Nelson (secretary). The team also includes daily-based and part-time community education nurses Joanne Brasch, Audrey Burks, Linda Dement, Gaye Graves, Denise Kelley, Paula Launius, Ruby Moore, Brooksie Read-Duncan, Jenny Stanfield, and Rachel White.

How Can You Help?

With only a few full-time staff members plus the additional help of part-time community education nurses, Community Outreach initiatives are always in need of physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and other health-care professionals to help at wellness centers, clinics, and other events. Those most needed include physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, case coordinators, and care coordinators. Donated items for pregnant women and new babies are also greatly appreciated.

Baptist Health Community Outreach Wellness Centers and Screening Locations

Major Outreach Projects

P.A.R.K., fast-food guide, flu-shot clinics, Health Department mass flu clinics, community walking program, Sister-to-Sister (healthy eating and exercise), Women’s Health Month, Watershed projects, diabetes empowerment education program, community-based prenatal classes, child seat safety, CPR classes (infant), community-based screening events, back-to-school immunizations, Pampered Ladies Wellness Expo, Safety baby showers, American Heart Association Sweetheart program, health cooking demonstrations, grocery-store tours, community-health needs assessment

Community Coalitions

Southeast Pulaski County Hometown Health Improvement (leadership role), Lonoke County Hometown Health Improvement Coalition (partnership role), North Little Rock Health Coalition (partnership role), Faulkner County Hometown Health initiatives

Partners in Education

Scoliosis screening, flu Shots in the schools, sports physicals, We Can! nutritional education program, Project Fit exercise program and equipment (with Bank of America), Junior Achievement, BMI measurements, Pulaski Technical school events, high-school physicals, screenings for school staff

Special Events

Health fairs, Arkansas Women’s Veterans Summit, annual minority health fair, Head North to Health, AHA Sweetheart program, Arkansas Minority Barber & Beauty Shop Health initiative, Embodi Outreach initiative, Center for Healing Hearts & Spirits events To learn more about the work Community Outreach does and how you can help, call 501-202-1540 or

See some of the ways Community Outreach made an impact in 2016.