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Published: Friday, 2/22/2013

3 local hospitals join forces to halt bullying, other threats

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Stopping bullies is among the goals of a three-hospital partnership.

ProMedica, Mercy, and University of Toledo Medical Center have worked together for more than a decade through the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio’s Lucas County Healthy Communities Foundation. Now the three hospitals are teaming up under a new name — Fostering Healthy Communities — to take a more active approach to solving local health needs.

“There’s sort of a renaissance, a re-commitment, and, of course, an escalating need in our community,” said Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, University of Toledo president.

The group will work with others in the community to address five local health priorities, and a bullying prevention campaign conducted with WGTE Public Media is among the first and biggest efforts. The yearlong campaign is supported by about $60,000 from the hospitals and will include public service announcements, an educator workshop, an 8 p.m. April 11 town hall meeting broadcast live on WGTE-TV, and a 7:30 p.m. March 25 speech by Kirk Smalley, of the anti-bullying organization Stand for the Silent, at the University of Toledo’s Field House.

Nearly half of seventh through 12th graders who participated in a 2011 Lucas County Health Assessment survey reported they had been bullied in the past year. In the same survey, 53 percent of parents of children ages 6 to 12 said their children were bullied. The report included various types of bullying such as teasing, bullying through email or cell phone, and physical bullying such as hitting and kicking.

That’s a public health issue because some victims internalize bullying issues, which can lead to anxiety, depression, high-blood pressure, and in the worst-case scenario suicide, said Lisa Pescara-Kovach, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Toledo and a liaison for the bullying prevention effort. Bullying also can be connected to hostile or criminal behavior.

The campaign expands on local police and school efforts to prevent bullying.

“We are going to reach a wider audience this way because this is a societal issue,” she said.

Society and technologies changes mean youth are bullied in new ways, such as through social media, said Andrea Price, Mercy president and chief executive officer. “We know bullying is an issue,” she said. “We really need to provide a safe environment for our youth.”

Information about local bullying-related events can be found at the Web site preventingbullying.org.

Fostering Healthy Communities also is providing funding for dental programs and clinics.

By working together, the three hospitals — Mercy, ProMedica, and UTMC, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital — can address community needs collectively as well as individually, said Jan Ruma, hospital council vice president. The partnership helps hospitals respond to Affordable Care Act requirements to assess and address health needs of the community.

The new direction gives hospitals a role in establishing health priorities and addressing “gaps” they can help fill, said ProMedica President and Chief Executive Officer Randy Oostra.

“We’ve taken a much more proactive approach,” he said.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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