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Diabetes Discoveries & Practice Blog

Sisters Together: A Strategy to Support Community-Clinical Linkages

There is power in communities—learn about the impact of referring patients to community support programs.

Rhonda Bayless, Executive Director of the Centers of Wellness for Urban Women and creator of a local Sisters Together program in Indianapolis, discusses the power of encouragement, resources, and accountability through community support programs like Sisters Together.

View the Sisters Together program guide to learn more and find out how to bring the program to your community.

View Transcript

If we want people to be healthy, we have to help them, we have to advocate for them. And one of those things is connecting them to resources that make sense for their life and their health and well-being.

The Sisters Together program is a program that targets women 18 and over, particularly black women, in regards to reducing the rates of obesity.

With Sisters Together, we were looking for an evidence-based program to target women here in Indianapolis. At the time, we couldn't identify any programs that involve fitness and nutrition, and so really through a Google search, to be very honest, it popped up. And so, with that, we just pulled the guide down and downloaded it and followed it. And, as simple as that.

It’s designed for women who need support and want support and want accountability as well, because that's what we’re here for, is to hold you accountable, to show up.

The program guide is a great instrument and tool. It goes step by step in how you put a program together.

It’s framed that it could help support chronic illness. Even some of the social determinants of health, we’ve been able to kind of address through the program that sometimes you can't do in a health care setting. You can't do that in your 15 minutes with a client, you can't do that. But if you can refer, if you can connect them with a community of people that can help support their health journey, that makes your work even better and easier and those outcomes will come.

But you have to kind of have that knowledge – with who in the community you can connect with? Is there a Sisters Together program in your community that you can refer that woman who is struggling with her weight, is struggling with a new diagnosis of diabetes, who is having some heart health issues, but is afraid? And you keep telling her to walk, you keep telling her to lose weight, you keep telling her. You’re like, “Why isn't she doing it? What's happening?” when she doesn't have a community of support.

I would always encourage any health care provider to reach out to community-based organizations to look and see what programming is available, and especially if there's a program like Sisters Together available, refer that client, that patient, to that program, so that they can maintain their health and that you're partnering. It’s another creative partnership, that clinic and community-based partnership.

[Connect your patients with Sisters Together. For more information about the Sisters Together program, contact: Centers of Wellness for Urban Women. cwuwonline.org]


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