Health Hub Welcomes Community Members for Open House
By Jenny Pedraza
Lilly Boxley, who lives in the Church Hill area in Richmond’s East End, spent part of her Saturday afternoon checking out Virginia Commonwealth University’s new Health Hub at 25th during the center’s Community Open House held Nov. 9.
Boxley learned more about the health screenings and consultations available at the center, and she created a paper lantern with InLight, Richmond’s annual series of light-based performances and art installations, kicking off the Community Lantern Parade Nov. 15 at Chimborazo Park. Boxley also gave a “Yoga for Living Well” session a try with BareSOUL Yoga and found the seated yoga style “very relaxing.”
“The hub is a great idea - there’s really nothing like it in the community, and there’s something here for everyone,” she said. “When you think of VCU, you think of the students, and you think of your health and the questions you have, so it’s been a good connection here. Everyone should check it out.”
Located at the corner of Nine Mile Road and North 25th Street, the VCU Health Hub at 25th is a health education and wellness activity center that opened in May. In addition to health screenings and counseling, the new health hub offers community events, fitness activities and educational programs, providing a connection to community providers and helping with care coordination to support behavioral health and disease management.
As a partnership between VCU and VCU Health, all programs are free and delivered by VCU faculty, VCU and VCU Health staff and students, as well as community partners.
“By bringing together students, faculty, staff and community members, the VCU Health Hub at 25th has become the epitome of hands-on, relevant education and community experience,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “Collaboration is critical as we work together to advance humanity.”
Natalie Pennywell, site director for the health hub, said the open house was a chance for community members and the VCU community to come in and experience the space, make connections and learn about how to access resources at the center.
“Every program that we offer here came through a community-voiced need or is in collaboration with an existing resource or service in the community,” Pennywell said. “Every aspect of today ties back to the community - from the external partners who are showcasing their services today, right down to our vendors and supplies. The programming that is happening ties back to what this community has been asking for for a long time.”
Byron Hunter, director of community health initiatives with VCU Health, said the health hub helps VCU leverage the university’s resources and integrate services with community partners to address health disparities on the East End.
“Today we’re highlighting many of our programs and community partnerships and showcasing VCU’s commitment to improving health and wellness for the greater region, with a large focus on the East End,” Hunter said. “This is an ongoing story about integrating services and being a good steward in the community.”
Stephanie Toney, resource center program director and community health supervisor with the Richmond City Health District, provided residents with the opportunity to meet with a community health worker during the open house. Community health workers are stationed at the health hub every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“We’re here to connect people with resources and get the word out that consultations are available at the health hub,” Toney said. “Instead of duplicating efforts in the city, the health hub is helping people navigate what is already available to them - everything from insurance to primary care doctors.”
Additional partners and activities at the open house included: The American Heart Association; VCU’s Richmond Health and Wellness Program; the Medical Legal Partnership led by VCU Health and the University of Richmond; RVA Breathes with the VCU Pediatric Asthma Research Team; cardio classes with Fitness Warriors; the East End Quilt Collective; children’s storytimes led by Oaskwood Arts, PBS Kids and the East End Library; grocery tours at the Market on 25th led by the VCU Health Dietetic Internship; and even the Armstrong High School pep band and Rodney the Ram.
For those who missed the open house, Pennywell invites members of the community to stop by anytime Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to learn more about this new community resource.
For more information, visit Health Hub at 25th.