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Community Wellness HUB Bridges West Philly Neighborhoods to Healthy Living

March 28, 2017

The Community Wellness HUB at Drexel University
Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, vice president for health and health equity in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, weighs a community member at the Community Wellness HUB, located at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

More than a quarter of adults smoke, have low-to-no walkable access to healthy foods and are obese in sections of West Philadelphia.

In an effort to promote healthy living and decrease health disparities among residents in Mantua and Powelton Village, Drexel University is opening a comprehensive wellness program that will focus on education, preventive services and community building.

The Community Wellness HUB opens Tuesday, April 11, at Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, Carriage House, 3509 Spring Garden Street. It is a partnership between the College of Nursing and Health Professions, the Dornsife Center and the Mantua and Powelton Village Civic Associations.

Staffed by volunteers from the College of Nursing and Health Professions — including nurse practitioners, physicians, as well as behavioral and physical therapists — the HUB will offer five types of programs:

  • Health education, awareness and prevention workshops
  • Health screening services
  • Referrals with follow-up case management services
  • Counseling services for individuals and families
  • Clinical treatment for residents who are uninsured

Services will be provided Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and one Saturday per month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Dornsife Center

The HUB springs from an initiative that began at Drexel in 2015, called “We’re Here Because We Care: Building Healthy Communities Together,” and led by Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, vice president for health and health equity in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

The goal of the initiative is to partner with community members in order to identify health concerns and issues, and to design programs that improve health outcomes. Jemmott and her team are aiming to implement community-driven, sustainable programs — starting in Drexel’s backyard and eventually spanning to other neighborhoods throughout the West Philadelphia Promise Zone.

After conducting focus groups with community members throughout Mantua and Powelton Village, Drexel researchers identified top health concerns among residents. These included access to care, mental/behavioral health, lack of exercise and healthy food, sexual health and chronic diseases.

According to Jemmott, the central message of “We’re Here Because We Care” is that engaging with community residents to talk honestly about their health concerns requires time, trust, transparency and mutual respect.

“What we hope to accomplish through this partnership is to address the specific needs of the people in these communities. To not only provide health services, but to give the community residents a voice at the table, and to create a warm and inviting environment in which students, faculty, clinicians and patients can learn ways to work together,” Jemmott said.

The HUB will kick off with a “Rally 4 Wellness Community Health Fair” on Saturday, April 8, sponsored by Pennsylvania Health and Wellness. The fair, which is free and open to the public, will offer health screenings, education workshops and entertainment at the Dornsife Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Drexel President John A. Fry, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, and Eric Lisle, Pennsylvania Health and Wellness CEO, will give remarks at 1:30 p.m. during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Presidents of the Mantua and Powelton Village Civic Associations will also attend. 

“We are delighted to work with Dr. Jemmott and our neighbors and to be able to host this initiative at the Dornsife Center, where Drexel’s academic and administrative resources are available to address the community’s priorities and ambitions,” said Lucy Kerman, PhD, Drexel’s senior vice provost for university and community partnerships.