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Published on January 29, 2015

Mercy and Abbe Center chosen to guide national health improvements

Mercy Medical Center, in collaboration with Abbe Center for Community Mental Health, was selected as one of ten groups across the country to improve the health of their communities by participating in a three-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Mercy and the Abbe Center, with the additional support of Affordable Housing Network, Aging Services and Linn County Public Health, are taking part in field testing the National Quality Forum’s (NQF) Improving Population Health by Working with Communities — Action Guide 1.0. The local partners are focusing on and studying the health and well-being of residents living at Geneva Tower in downtown Cedar Rapids.  Geneva Tower is managed by the Affordable Housing Network, Inc.  

The Action Guide handbook and the field testing over the next 18 months are designed to stimulate effective collaboration to improve the nation’s health. Chosen from a pool of 40 applicants, each field testing group selected is applying the content of the Guide to their population health improvement projects to determine what works and offer ideas for new or revised content.

One of the first planned initiatives locally – to engage the residents of Geneva Tower in the project – was a free health screening offered on Tuesday, Feb. 3. The screening helped residents examine certain health indicators. Basic data collected from the health screening will aid in follow-up activities including educational classes, individualized support, and the provision of groups and activities to support residents in making healthy lifestyle changes.

“We are pleased to have been chosen among a select few in the nation for this important health initiative,” said Melissa Cullum, manager of Community Benefit at Mercy Medical Center. “This project aligns perfectly with our mission – to enhance the health of the communities we serve. We hope to have a positive impact on our local community as well as across the country.”

The 10 selected field testing groups are geographically and substantially diverse and include:

  • Colorado Dept. of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) – Denver, CO
  • Community Service Council of Tulsa – Tulsa, OK
  • Designing a Strong and Healthy NY (DASH-NY) – New York, NY
  • Empire Health Foundation – Spokane, WA
  • Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement – Charleston, WV
  • Mercy Medical Center and Abbe Center for Community Mental Health –
    Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Michigan Health Improvement Alliance – Central Michigan
  • Oberlin Community Services and The Institute for eHealth Equity – Oberlin, OH
  • Trenton Health Team, Inc. – Trenton, NJ
  • The Univ. of Chicago Medicine Population Health Management Transformation – Chicago, IL

Members from the NQF Population Health Team visited Cedar Rapids in February for a site visit as the project got underway. The goal of the team is to have a final draft of the Action Guide handbook completed and available for widespread use by July 2016.

The National Quality Forum leads national collaboration to improve health and healthcare quality through measurement. Learn more at

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