In 2004, state-endorsed SHIPS (State Health Improvement Plans) from neighboring McKeesport, Duquesne, Braddock and Hazelwood met to discuss ways to create collaborative, far-reaching health initiatives beyond their individual catchment areas. What resulted was the Mon River Fleet, (FLEET) an alliance of four SHIPS dedicated to seeking innovative ways to spread health care education and solutions throughout their communities. The Mon River Fleet philosophy is to centralize best practice programming, and outcomes data collection, and to decentralize the dissemination of health care information motivating healthy change at the community level.

 

By virtue of age, income, education, employment and minority status the cities of McKeesport, Duquesne, Braddock, and Hazelwood are recognized as medically underserved communities. Combined, the cities have a startling 30% of its residents living below poverty level (State level is 12.4%). Moreover, these cities have a high percentage of African Americans living in these conditions: McKeesport (24.5%), Braddock (66.5%), Duquesne (47.7%), and Hazelwood (41%) (US Census Bureau, 2000). Per capita income for these communities do not compare favorably to an average yearly medical cost of $13,243, per diabetes patient (University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute, Diabetes Fall Summit, 2005). These populations regularly encounter numerous barriers to primary care services. Weighed against the Healthy People 2010 goals, these cities unfavorably exceed all goals related to both African American female and male death rates. The Clairton Community Partnership became a wonderful addition to the Fleet in 2006.

 

Our goal is to provide Diabetes workshops to 250 individuals over the course of three years in the target areas of McKeesport, Braddock, Duquesne, Clairton, and Hazelwood; our target audience is the African American; however, we will not limit our free educational workshops to these geographical areas or races. Our instructors will be resident physicians, registered nurses, and dieticians. The focus of this project is dissemination of basic Diabetes information related to diet and exercise. The focus is not research based; however, we do intend to collect the outcomes outlined in the proposal in order to determine the success of the workshops.

 

The Fleet continues to work collectively with the PA Department of Health, Immunizations, on its yearly influenza and pneumococcal vaccine program. Over 5,000 vaccines are provided free of charge to residents in all Fleet communities through SHIP.