One of the most critical elements necessary to build a strong community is access to quality health care. North Omaha has a growing and expanding set of options.
Having healthy children is absolutely paramount for the success of any society and community. School Based Health Centers, developed by Building Healthy Futures and managed by Charles Drew Health Center in OPS Schools, are playing a pivotal role in bringing quality health care to North Omaha. The School Based Health Centers provide access to students in OPS, their siblings and their family members. Having health services available at school has been shown to decrease absences and increase attendance, which has a direct link to academic performance. School-based Health Centers can be found in North Omaha at Kellom Elementary School, King Science Center and Northwest High School. They are available to all children in OPS.
In addition to leading the School Based Health Centers, Charles Drew Health Center has evolved into a quality site for providing health services in North Omaha. The Center was expanded in a great way under the leadership of recently retired CEO, Dr. Richard Brown. Brown was successful in a $4 million expansion, made Charles Drew into a major employer in North Omaha, and led efforts and developed partnerships to create school-based and public housing-based health centers in strategic locations. Brown was also visionary in hiring and preparing his successor, Kenny McMorris. Now, as CEO, McMorris is building on Dr. Brown’s foundation and Charles Drew is taking things to an even greater level. With the support of the community and philanthropic contributors, Charles Drew is expanding services to include more doctors in the areas of dentistry, mental health and other specialty fields. McMorris and his team are blazing new trails and making Charles Drew a full service, high quality, community based health center. Charles Drew is very active in the community, hosting and attending health fairs, screenings and outreach events throughout the year.
CHI Health is a major player in the North Omaha health community. The CHI Immanuel Medical Center serves the entire community, but has made an intentional and focused effort to reach out to make a greater impact in North Omaha. The Center offers a wide arrange of medical services, including a full service hospital. They are best known for their work in Rehabilitation, Mental Health services and Cancer Treatment. Under the leadership of Ann Schumacher, CHI Immanuel is also partnering with North Omaha on employment, economic development, trauma informed care and other specific needs identified in partnership with the community.
The creation of a $35 million Creighton University Medical Center was announced in 2014 and CHI Health has already broken ground at 24th and Cuming in North Omaha. The state of the art health center will feature services prioritized by the community in a series of forums hosted in partnership with the Empowerment Network and others.
Set to open in 2016, the building will have physicians working in family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, women’s health, behavioral health, 24 hour pharmacy and emergency departments. Physical therapy and occupational therapy will also be available. Meeting space for community members will be another added feature. Kevin Nokels, president of CUMC, has also played a key role with employment and economic development in North Omaha.
Nebraska Medicine also has a solid and growing presence in North Omaha. The Clarkson and Nebraska Medical Center Hospitals are two of the primary locations used by North Omaha residents. Nebraska Medicine also has community outreach offices in a plaza on Ames Street. The organization hosts and participates in various health events throughout the year.
Beyond the large health systems, North Omaha is blessed and fortunate to have strong leaders and organizations dedicated to improving health outcomes in the community. Ira Combs is ever present throughout the community and available wherever called on. Combs has won national recognition, including a visit to the White House, for his community-based health approaches, innovative programs for youth and commitment to anyone who needs services. Shari Nared, affectionately dubbed “the STD Lady” by youth and young adults, has made it her mission to educate the community and eliminate STDs in the community. The Women’s Fund, with outreach consultant Brenda Council, has also joined in the battle with a comprehensive campaign to reduced STDs called Get Checked Omaha.
Dr. Sade Kosoko-Lasaki, leads Creighton University’s Center for Health Disparities and has created very successful programs, including a national model for increasing diversity in health career professions. Dr. Kosoko has also partnered with many entities on a recent initiative, REACH, to specifically address the health and exercise of African-Americans in the city. REACH is led by Dr. Richard Brown. Wayne Houston and Renaisa Anthony, lead efforts in partnership with Dr. Dejun Su with the Nebraska Medicine’s Center for Health Disparities. The Center is developing a series of new programs and opportunities.
Doris Lassiter, CEO of the Nebraska Center for Healthy Families, is a strategic leader and partner on many of these initiatives in North Omaha.
Doris Moore, CEO of Center for Holistic Development, is a key leader in bringing attention and awareness to the mental and behavioral needs in the community and consistently highlighting the need for culturally sensitive care.
Heartland Family Services, Lutheran Family Services and Catholic Charities are significant players in helping to address a myriad of social issues. Each organization offers a wide range of services in the community, reaching thousands of families. In addition, the Nebraska Family Collaborative is the lead organization in the city as the primary contractor for Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Many of these agencies are supported by the United Way and it’s donors. With a new strategic plan completed, the United Way is focused on reducing poverty by addressing education, workforce development and basic needs.